For cou­ple, three is the magic num­ber

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Dear Carolyn: My part­ner and I have a won­der­ful (and wild) 3-year-old girl. We both work full time, and she at­tends a lov­ing preschool. We live four to five hours away from any fam­ily.

Lately, other friends have had a sec­ond or third child. That’s great for them.

But what I don’t ap­pre­ci­ate is the pres­sure we get from our friends to have more kids. We have de­cided not to for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, with the No. 1 rea­son be­ing the pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive child care and the fi­nan­cial in­abil­ity for one par­ent to stay home. Yet we are con­stantly ham­mered by friends to “go for the sec­ond.” Friends have said our daugh­ter will be an en­ti­tled weirdo if she’s an only child, par­tic­u­larly since we live far from fam­ily.

This has led us to sec­ond-guess our de­ci­sion. Is hav­ing an only child when you live far from fam­ily a bad thing?

— Pres­sured

Pres­sured: Hav­ing a sec­ond child just to shut your friends up is a bad thing.

Pres­sur­ing people about their fam­ily planning is also a bad thing. Id­iots. This is none of your friends’ business.

But the worst thing here is the mind­less, broad-brush smear of ev­ery only child who ever ex­isted, and all their par­ents — “far from fam­ily” is a red her­ring — just be­cause . . . what, your friends can’t think of any­thing more in­ter­est­ing to talk about than their own val­i­da­tion? I’m other­wise at a loss to ex­plain it.

Do make it clear what they’re re­ally say­ing: “You do re­al­ize you just called ev­ery only child on Earth ‘en­ti­tled’ and ‘weird,’ and blamed their par­ents for it? Please tell me you didn’t mean to.”

If they try to de­fend them­selves: “You’re my friend, yes? Then don’t judge us or pres­sure us to be like you.”

If they’re as ob­tuse as they are judgy and main­tain the breed­more pres­sure, then keep this handy and re­peat — ver­ba­tim — as needed: “I’m not ask­ing for ad­vice.”

As needed, ei­ther till they leave you alone or you re­place them with less clue-chal­lenged friends.

Hi, Carolyn: My boyfriend has made a habit out of us­ing birth­days and hol­i­days as an op­por­tu­nity to upgrade his life­style un­der the guise of gen­er­ous gift-giv­ing. He re­cently gifted me his used lap­top — which he did spend money on, get­ting it cleaned up — for Christ­mas, af­ter buy­ing him­self the lat­est up­graded lap­top. My last birth­day he gave me his used scuba gear and took that op­por­tu­nity to upgrade his own set.

The thing is, I’m not a big diver, and my cur­rent lap­top is per­fectly ad­e­quate and bet­ter suited for my needs. How­ever, he gets up­set if I po­litely de­cline, so these presents are re­ally just tak­ing up valu­able closet space.

Am I un­grate­ful or am I jus­ti­fied in feel­ing a bit stuck in an un­grate­ful-re­cip­i­ent po­si­tion? I’m also not able to fig­ure out why exactly this irks me, and it seems disin­gen­u­ous to fake en­thu­si­asm as I’m walk­ing gifts over to the closet.

— Anony­mous

Your boyfriend is gen­er­ous pri­mar­ily to him­self, and re­ally, re­ally doesn’t care to have that pointed out to him.

You are likely irked by this be­cause self-cen­tered people are irk­some.

He is not even try­ing to hide this in­for­ma­tion from you. Please see him for who he is and act ac­cord­ingly.


Carolyn Hax

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