There are too many excellent advice columns to keep up with, so we're committed to bringing you links to the best advice column questions and answers every week. Here's a roundup of the most interesting, thought-provoking and surprising questions that our favorite columnists (and subreddits) addressed in recent days.
Should I Tell My Son's Friend's Parents I'm Upset They Served My Son Indian Food?
My son, "Chris," is 9. A few weeks ago, we decided to open our bubble to include the family of "Neil," Chris's best friend. Both of Neil's parents are doctors, so this seemed like a safe decision. Both parents were born and raised in India. We let Chris have dinner at their place the other night since both boys were having a great time together. When we came to pick up Chris, Neil's mom recounted to me how much chicken curry and lentils and vegetables Chris ate. I couldn't believe that they served my son spicy curries without even calling to ask us if that would be OK! I was taken aback and gently mentioned that spicy foods can be hard on small tummies, but it didn't seem to register. Thankfully Chris didn't get sick. My wife says to drop it because any conversation will look racial in nature and to only let the boys play at our place. Please help.
Danny M. Lavery urges the letter writer to drop it. "There's something so grotesque about the infantilizing language of 'gently informing someone' — especially when that someone is 'two doctors' — about 'small tummies,' coupled with the racist horror that your 9-year-old ate and enjoyed a few servings of chicken curry, one of the world's most popular and adaptable dishes," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.
Should I Have To Pay To Repair My Girlfriend's Violin Bow After I Let My Nephew Damage It?
My girlfriend is a talented musician. She plays multiple instruments and has an angelic voice. She's dedicated her life to this excruciating task, and it's truly paid off.
My sister has 2 boys, a 10 year-old and a 8 year old. They are extremely active and love running around, which usually ends in a mess being created… The boys came to stay with me for a day when my sister and my girlfriend were out of town (separately.)
The 10 year old is learning the violin and he insists on playing like my girlfriend. I thought it would be harmless to bring out my girlfriend's violin for him to play something, and to calm his hyper-active self down. Granted, it was slightly too big for him, but he was plucking the strings and seemed to know how to use it. I had to dash out for a emergency (I was just next door) and when I returned after an hour, her bow was almost completely frayed. I took the violin away and scolded both of them.
My girlfriend came back home to a frayed bow. She was understandably upset, and to my surprise, even more upset when I told her the entire story. She asked me if I would like to pay for the repair (or replacement) of the violin bow. I thought that my sister would have to chalk up the fees because it was her kids (my nephews) who caused the damage in the first place. My girlfriend disagreed and defended my sister not paying the fees when I prompted her to. I keep refusing every time she asks. I'm not stopping from practicing either, she has a spare bow.
Am I really the [asshole]? I shouldn't be faulted for someone else's kids problems.
The commenters on the r/AmItheAsshole subreddit overwhelmingly agree that the letter writer was in the wrong. "If someone took out my instrument and handed it to a ten year old and then left them alone for an hour with it, they would never be allowed back in my home again," one of them writes. "Shame on you for failing to see the value of the instrument, shame on you for giving it to a child, and shame on you for refusing to pay for it." Read the rest of their answers (and an update from the letter writer).
Should I Let My 6-Year-Old Start Breastfeeding Again?
I currently still breastfeed my 25-month-old toddler — we were slowly weaning before the pandemic, but now that we're almost always in our small city apartment, he reverted and happily nurses whenever he wishes. In general, I've almost always been happy to breastfeed on demand. Breastfeeding has always been simple and easy for me, and both of my kids enjoyed it.
We had weaned our oldest, an almost-6-year-old, back when she was a year old. But now she wants to breastfeed! This comes up almost every day. She's surprised me by latching several times (as in snuck up and jumped my free breast while I'm feeding the toddler), and when I gently have conversations about why she would want to breastfeed, she just gets so relaxed and a dreamy look comes over her eyes, and she says "Oh, it's just so soft, and the milk is so warm and yummy."
I'm completely perplexed! I never pictured having a child this old even be INTERESTED in breastfeeding, let alone be able to articulate her reasoning so clearly. And she really seems so hurt when I try to explain that she's a big girl now and has so many other great things to eat. She's definitely sad about it…
My husband and I have tried explaining that big girls get to do so many cool things a 25-month-old can't and gone that route ... unsuccessfully. We also tried indulging her with extra attention and hugs and kisses and cuddles, but she just really wants to breastfeed. We've also given her tons of actual milk (warm too), but it just isn't what she's looking for. If you know of a great way to deny a 6-year-old a working boob that doesn't crush them emotionally during the already stressful situation of a pandemic, or if you think there's even a chance that breastfeeding a kid that old won't create other problems, please let me know!
Nicole Cliffe encourages the letter writer to hold the line. "You have said no, you have explained why, there is literally no reason to start again," she writes. "It's always a problem to teach your kid that if they just keep working you, you'll give in and say yes to something you have very clearly said no to." Read the rest of her answer.
Why Does The Much Younger Colleague I Have A Huge Crush On Socialize With Other Men At The Office But Not Me?
I work closely with a woman who is 21 years younger than I. We are both single. Because of our age difference and professional relationship I am not looking to date her. However, over the last couple years I have developed romantic feelings for her.
I converse with her by asking questions about movies she likes, books she reads or what she did the previous weekend. Her answers are usually short and without elaboration. I even share with her things that I do in my life, but never once in the five years I have known her, has she ever initiated a conversation with me or asked me about my life. She acts differently with other male co-workers. She does things for them, smiles at them and seems genuinely interested in their conversation. It really stings every time I see her socialize with others and ignore me. What can I do to get out of this psychological rut I am in?
Abigail Van Buren guesses that the woman has picked up on the letter writer's crush, and that's precisely why she keeps their conversations professional. "If you can't quell that crush on her, you may have to change jobs so you won't have to work so closely with her — or at all," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.
Should I Tell My Boss He Accidentally Screenshared An Instant Message About My Coworker's Performance Improvement Plan?
I work on a sales team. A coworker, "Sheryl," joined our team late last year, with a long and successful sales career behind her. On our team, she has been less successful. She has made passing remarks to me that indicate that she knows her job could be in jeopardy.
We are all working from home due to Covid. On a team call recently, our boss was sharing his screen to show us something. Once he finished showing it to us, he did not stop sharing even as the conversation shifted to other topics. An instant message from my boss's boss popped up: "Are we moving forward with a PIP for Sheryl?"
My boss didn't seem to realize he was still sharing his screen (his camera was also on) and pondered for a moment before responding in IM that he was on a team call and would call later. He then minimized the messages.
I have no idea who else saw this. Should I say anything to anyone about this? Give my boss an FYI that the team, including Sheryl, may have seen it? I'm pretty sure that I shouldn't say anything to Sheryl, as she already knows her job may be in trouble, and will know soon enough if she is out on a PIP. Am I making too big a deal about this?
Alison Green opines that it would be a kindness to let the boss know, if the letter writer has a good relationship with him. "You don't need to make a huge deal out of it — just tell him privately that you wanted to give him a heads-up in case he wants to check his settings to keep it from happening again," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.
Is My Daughter Endangering Her Children, Who Do Not Exist Yet, By Going Vegan?
My daughter is in her 30s. Her boyfriend has decided to be totally vegan. She has decided to be vegan, too, which is fine. They're adults and they will do what they believe is best.
My question concerns these new dietary restrictions.
At some point they may have children. I would like advice about whether being vegan is good for children in utero, and as they develop.
Is it healthy and advisable?
These kids will be in situations over their lives when traveling, at social situations, or during holidays where they may have to make eating choices that are not compatible with plant-based diets.
I understand the benefits of a plant-based diet and the impact on saving the planet, but still I worry about an entire diet and lifestyle approach that the kids must follow (with no choice) because their parents believe in it.
My approach will probably be that if you would like me to feed the kids something, let me know in advance so I can figure out how to provide it.
I'm curious if there's research about how plant-based diets influence the development of young children.
Amy Dickinson consults a nutritional expert who says it's possible for children to thrive on a vegan diet, but also observes that that's beside the point. "[E]ven though you assert that these people are adults and have the right to feed their own bodies, you don't seem to really believe in their ability to use discernment to make good choices down the road," she writes. "(Also note: They are dating, no one is pregnant, and no one has asked you for your opinion.)" Read the rest of her answer.