Dear Care and Feeding: I Think My Son’s Crush Is From an Anti-Vax Family. Should I Drive Them Apart?

bollywoodmafiaSeptember 29, 2021

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting recommendation column. Have a query for Care and Feeding? Submit it here or publish it within the Slate Parenting Facebook group.

Dear Care and Feeding,

How can we navigate teen relationship within the time of COVID? Our household has been very diligent with correct precautions, and we’re all vaccinated. Unfortunately, we reside in a state that has banned faculty masks mandates and different mitigation measures. We additionally reside in a very crimson zip code, surrounded by anti-vaxxers. My son “James” is in highschool and actually likes a lady named “Kayla.” He’d prefer to take her to a dance in a couple of weeks. We suppose Kayla’s household could also be conservative Christians, a bunch with one of many lowest vaccination charges. James doesn’t know whether or not Kayla is vaccinated, and he’s nervous to ask as a result of he doesn’t need to trigger a rift. We’ve informed him to ask her in a low-key manner, but when we discover out she’s not vaxxed, what are we to do with that info? Tell him to interrupt it off? That he has to ask a possible date her vaccination standing up entrance? That’s straightforward to do for adults, however a child doesn’t actually make their very own vaccination selections. We don’t need to make his adolescence much more bizarre and tough than it already has been, however we’ve labored so laborious to maintain our household protected. We additionally don’t need to create an impression that we’re policing his relationships primarily based on faith, if that seems to be an element. What is truthful to do on this scenario?

— Perplexed About Pandemic Puppy Love

Dear Perplexed,

I feel you’re proper that whereas features of pandemic relationship are additionally difficult for adults, the entire thing is far worse for teenagers. Even pre-vaccination, adults might attempt to rigorously type pods primarily based on their relative consolation and threat evaluation, and ask each other about vaccination standing, mask-wearing, and different COVID security measures. But so lots of these selections are made by dad and mom, not youngsters, and there’s not a good way to bubble with anybody whenever you’re going to highschool daily.

If Kayla isn’t vaccinated, if she doesn’t put on a masks at college or take different COVID precautions, I do know you most likely gained’t be ok with James going to the dance along with her. Maybe you’d even be tempted to place your foot down and say they shouldn’t hang around alone. But I’ll level out that that’s a really laborious line to attract, and all however inconceivable to implement. I do suppose it’s superb for James to ask Kayla if she’s vaccinated—it has nothing to do with policing anybody’s faith, as a result of it’d be good information for him to have no matter her household’s beliefs. It’s her proper to not reply, in fact, but when she will get upset with him for asking, that is likely to be a warning signal he ought to be aware earlier than going out along with her, no?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you say, in the event that they need to see one another, they’re most likely going to see one another, throughout regular faculty hours on the very least. You would possibly attempt to guarantee that time is spent as safely as potential, particularly if Kayla isn’t vaccinated—outside if potential, masked when not, and so forth. Talk with James in regards to the stakes: He’s not proof against COVID, neither is Kayla, and he doesn’t need both of them to get sick or make others sick. Acknowledge that you already know it’s laborious and feels unfair to should issue COVID threat into his social life, however he’s not alone; accountable individuals in every single place are behaving and making selections in a different way than they might in any other case. Be as accommodating as you’ll be able to in the case of issues you already know are protected—i.e., don’t take him to process if he spends extra time speaking to her or different associates on the cellphone. Emphasize that for the sake of the remainder of your loved ones and everybody else you’re in touch with, he must let you know if he does something that exposes you all to further threat.

As for the query of whether or not or not James goes to the dance with Kayla, I do know it appears like a bizarre determination so that you can be concerned with in any respect, however COVID has modified numerous issues. You can attempt to discover out what if any COVID measures are in place for the dance. If I have been in your place, I wouldn’t really feel good letting my child go to a packed indoor dance with giant numbers of unmasked individuals proper now, no matter their date’s vaccination standing. But I’m not dealing with this explicit determination, you’re, and I feel all you are able to do is strategy it as you’d another pandemic-era determination: Discuss all of the dangers and variables that apply to you and your loved ones’s scenario, after which make a name you’ll be able to reside with. It won’t be the very same name one other dad or mum makes. But you’re the one one who can contemplate all of the components concerned, weigh the advantages towards the potential value, and make the selection that feels, if not nice, then one of the best one you may make on this scenario.

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From this week’s letter, “My Parents Are Hellbent on Keeping My Son Away From His Father:” “They’ve accused me of “abandoning my son” due to the parenting time his father has.”

Dear Care and Feeding,

My husband and I battle with two sides of the identical coin: a sophisticated relationship with meals. He is about 20 kilos obese and has been upset about this for years. He works in a high-stress career and struggles to make wholesome meals decisions throughout busy days—a battle which is difficult by his mother’s childhood insistence on the “clear plate membership.” I, in the meantime, am common weight, however am always calorie-counting in my head. This hasn’t been disruptive, per se, however is a actuality of my existence that I don’t love.

We are at a crossroads with our 4- and 6-year-old daughters. My husband hates meals waste and normally encourages them to complete what’s on their plates, even when they’re not hungry or don’t need the meals. If we buy one thing and nobody within the household needs it, he will get upset, as a result of the meals shall be wasted. I, in the meantime, suppose it’s a foul concept to have this “clear plate membership” mentality and—if I’m being sincere—I don’t prefer to see my daughters consuming further energy they don’t need or want simply because it was on their plate. I feel we are able to encourage them to take solely what they want with out making them really feel unhealthy for not ending their meals. Are we setting our children up for a lifelong downside? How can we navigate this?

— Torn in Toledo

Dear Torn,

I definitely don’t suppose it’s good to throw meals away. But the “clear plate membership” factor has all the time struck me as slightly bizarre and controlling. It’s bodily uncomfortable to drive your self to eat for those who’re full, and to me there’s something very unhealthy in sending the message {that a} little one will be made to really feel pointless discomfort simply because an grownup needs them to do one thing.

If your youngsters frequently go away numerous meals on their plates, it could possibly be that the present servings are just a bit too large for his or her stomachs, through which case I would simply advocate providing smaller servings (whereas encouraging every child to let you know in the event that they need to be served an even bigger portion, and ensuring they know they will return for seconds). I assume you’ll be educating them to serve themselves as they grow old—with extra management over their parts, it is likely to be simpler for them to complete what’s on their respective plates. Of course, it’ll take a while for them to get the knack of serving themselves quantity primarily based on how hungry they’re, however they’ll get there.

I agree with you that it’s good to encourage youngsters to eat what they need and never guilt them if they will’t end all the things. But I feel it’s additionally a crimson flag that you just’re worrying in regards to the imaginary hazard of your 4- and 6-year-old daughters getting “further energy” at mealtime. You say you don’t like counting your personal energy on a regular basis, but you’re worrying over their caloric consumption. As I feel you already know, this might result in a distinct and doubtlessly extra dangerous type of food-policing than your husband’s clean-plate-club obsession. Both of you’re, as you say, coping with your personal points associated to meals and physique picture, however these items actually mustn’t develop into your kids’s burdens. It’s good to proceed to pay attention to the potential injury, and work laborious to not challenge or go these points on to your youngsters.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I’m a 30-year-old girl residing in a serious metropolis and lately engaged to my boyfriend. We are on the identical web page about just about all the things, together with that we each need to attempt for teenagers inside a couple of years of getting married, which is nice. We have been additionally on the identical web page about our determination to undertake a canine a couple of months in the past (sure, sure, we’re pandemic canine individuals now). Our canine is superior and I’ve no regrets, however I’m a bit nervous about what canine possession has proven me about my very own psychological and emotional state.

We adopted a 2-year-old rescue canine who got here to us with fairly unhealthy separation nervousness from his unique residence and his foster residence. We adopted a plan the rescue shared with us to assist with this, leaving him alone progressively, and labored our manner as much as leaving him alone for a couple of hours at a time. He doesn’t love after we go away—a little bit of whining/crying—however then he’s superb and chills out along with his chew toys. (I do know as a result of I acquired a type of creepy canine cameras to observe him whereas we’re out.) The situation is that I’ve extremely intense nervousness in regards to the canine each time we go away him alone. I needed to delete the canine digital camera app as a result of I used to be overcome by the necessity to test it each couple of minutes. I’ve discovered myself in tears at social gatherings as a result of I’m near panicking in regards to the canine being alone. I understand this sounds nuts, and I really feel nuts about it. Our canine is doing superb—he’s well-behaved, apart from regular new-dog stuff (furniture-chewing and the occasional accident), he appears to be very blissful and having fun with his new life, he appears to actually love me and my fiancé, he’s completely protected each time we go away him within the very giant playpen we acquired that has his toys, water, and cozy mattress. So why am I unable to cease panicking about him?

This has made me fear that if/when now we have kids sooner or later, I’m going to be utterly sick with nervousness always. I’ve all the time been an above-average-anxious individual, however by no means to this extent. The solely purpose I haven’t deserted my social life to be residence with the canine 24/7 is out of concern that it will be unhealthy for him and make his separation nervousness come again with a vengeance. If that is how I’m as a “canine mother,” how will I ever handle the emotional weight of changing into an precise mother?

— Anxious Dog Mom = Bad Human Mom?

Dear Anxious Dog Mom,

Despite what anybody tells you, having a canine isn’t actually a complete lot like having a child. There are some similarities, together with the truth that they educate you duty, they drive you to ascertain a minimum of some routines, and proper after you will have introduced one residence it’s possible you’ll end up woefully disadvantaged of sleep and questioning “wow, what the hell did we do???” But how you’re together with your pandemic pet doesn’t essentially predict the way you’ll be with a human little one. You’ll fear as a dad or mum, however your particular person worries and fears and obsessions may have completely totally different timelines and triggers (hooray?). For instance, it gained’t be protected to go away an toddler (or a toddler, or a younger little one) residence alone, and also you couldn’t keep residence with them eternally even for those who wished to as a result of, faculty. Your mileage could fluctuate; for me, having youngsters has not made my nervousness persistently worse, simply totally different—and if I didn’t have them to really feel anxious about, I do know I’d simply commit extra time and vitality to different anxieties.

It’s actually good to pay attention to the way you’ve been feeling, in addition to the truth that you’re, in your personal phrases, “an above-average-anxious individual.” (Same!) At the identical time, you don’t have to simply drive your self to battle via this with out assist. Even if the majority of the nervousness you’re aware of proper now’s associated to 1 factor—leaving your canine residence alone—it’s clearly beginning to have an effect on your day by day life, and so I feel it would assist to speak with somebody about it. Having some useful methods and methods to redirect your considering will serve you nicely if and whenever you develop into a dad or mum.

In the meantime, don’t beat your self up over these anxious panicky emotions about your canine. Try to do not forget that the final 12 months and a half has been so tough—for you, for everybody—so you’re doubtless noticing an uptick in nervousness for multiple purpose! Your beloved pup might be what you’re fixating on proper now; I’m positive he’s been the main target of a lot love and a focus. But the world has given us all a complete lot of causes to really feel extra anxious currently, and it could possibly be that your nervousness over your canine is only one large noticeable symptom of one thing you’d be attempting to handle with or and not using a pet, with or with out youngsters.

Dear Care and Feeding,

Growing up, I used to be all the time informed that motherhood was one in all, if not THE biggest pleasure a girl might expertise. My mom was a stay-at-home mother who took care of her 4 youngsters; my older sisters all married and had youngsters comparatively quickly in life (late teenagers/early twenties). My mom and sisters contemplate it a tragedy if a girl is unable to have kids, which I get if that’s what they need; on the identical time, they see girls who’re childfree by selection as having one thing “flawed” with them. Because of this, I meant to comply with their lead and develop into a mom in some unspecified time in the future in my life, however determined to face aside by ending faculty, establishing a profession, and getting married first. I did all this by the point I used to be in my thirties. My household assumed I’d have kids—as did my boyfriend, as soon as we married—however a 12 months in the past, I got here to the belief that I don’t truly need youngsters.

Honestly, nothing about motherhood has ever appealed to me. Where my household appears to visualise unsung heroes, devoted caretakers, and absolute love, I largely simply see overworked housewives, misplaced hours, and limitless complications. My mom, for instance, didn’t have a lot of a life exterior us youngsters rising up. My sisters, be they married or divorced, appear overwhelmed by their youngsters. Besides that, I simply don’t have the will for kids. I choose having the liberty to journey or exit in town without having to rent a sitter or pack all the things associated to the kid and convey it with me. I don’t need the duty of elevating a baby, being overly cautious with my cash, after which coping with the issues of mood-shifting youngsters. Also, I don’t actually like youngsters. This led to the tip of my relationship; my ex-boyfriend needs youngsters, and you may’t compromise on that.

I’m at peace with it, however my household isn’t. My mom particularly is devastated that she’ll by no means obtain grandchildren via me. My oldest sister, who has 4 kids, thinks I’ll change my thoughts in the future, warning that it is likely to be too late. I do know myself, and children usually are not a part of the equation of my life. The perception I need is whether or not or not I’m actually lacking out by not having youngsters. The manner I see it, if I don’t need them, then there’s nothing to overlook. The girls of my household, although, appear satisfied that I’ll. Is there one thing I’m not seeing?

— Happy Non-Mom

Dear Happy Non-Mom,

What you’d miss by not having youngsters is … having youngsters! Maybe it’s truthful to say you’d be lacking loads simply because having youngsters is loads—it’s laborious, it’s exhausting, it’s heartbreaking; it’s additionally usually shocking and hilarious and delightful. There are actual joys dad and mom expertise that you just gained’t. But there are additionally loads of joys and privileges that may include childfree life (I bear in mind them! I generally miss them) and people are out of attain for a lot of dad and mom, a minimum of for a very long time. I don’t suppose you’ll be sad with this determination in the long run if it’s really what you need. And I hope that, in time, your whole household understands and accepts that you just’re selecting the life that feels best for you, even when it appears to be like totally different from what they hoped or anticipated.

No one can promise one other human a lifetime with out remorse, but it surely actually sounds as if you wouldn’t be pleased with all of the methods your life would change for those who had youngsters, and that’s greater than okay—there are such a lot of different methods to seek out love and success in life. Whether you would like/love your personal little one or get pleasure from being their dad or mum is likely to be open questions, because it’s inconceivable to know earlier than it occurs. But I feel the important thing truth right here is that you just know you don’t need the duty of youngsters. That’s factor to appreciate about your self, and one thing the individuals who love you need to have the ability to imagine and respect.


More Advice From Slate

I’m a nonbinary trans one who lives in a large metropolis. Most days, I look fairly gender-nonconforming, and I’m additionally on low-dose testosterone, which is progressively shifting my look away from what most individuals would contemplate “the norm.” Because of this, I usually get stared at by infants and little youngsters after I’m out and about—on the practice, in shops, on the road, and so forth. I don’t essentially thoughts—I do know they’re solely curious! My intuition is normally to smile again at them, since I usually like youngsters and I feel it’s good for them to have optimistic interactions with real-life trans individuals. My principal concern, although, is with their dad and mom. Will they suppose it’s creepy that I’m interacting with their youngsters? Am I putting myself at risk?

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