While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On the whole strip-club thing:
L.: An early conversation with my now-husband went something like this:
Me: "While you are going out with your mate to have fun at a strip club (no touching, no sex, just fun), I am going to go have fun too. I don't want to go to a male strip club because I would find it entirely unappealing. Instead, my pal and I will go to XYX (nice bar), find funny, smart, great-looking guys with great-paying jobs and very nice cars — sporty I hope — and chat (no touching, no sex, just fun). Don't worry, I'm coming back to you."
Him: "Uh, no."
I didn't want to control him, or even necessarily have him agree with me. I just wanted him to understand — and care — how it would make me feel. He did.
On how to knock it out of the park when your kid takes an unexpected path:
S.: When I was realizing my husband and I weren't going to keep trying for kids, and were just not going to have them, my parents were right there reassuring me that they weren't disappointed in me, and helping me through it.
I wish I had advice, but I don't — all I have is my gratitude for how my folks handled this.
I remember saying to my mom something along the lines of, "Do you think you would love me more deeply if I had kids?" and her saying, "I couldn't possibly love anyone any more than I love you." And I remember saying to my dad, "It's hard to think about there being this whole set of experiences I'm going to miss," and his coming right back with, "But there's another whole set of experiences you won't have to miss."
And when my brother had a child, and my mom and I were talking once, and I mentioned feeling like she and he had this bond now, that I didn't get, she also pointed out that she and I were able to deepen conversations about other topics, because we weren't talking about kids.
What a huge gift it's been that my parents, if they are disappointed, have chosen to share that with other people in their lives, and in our relationships have just gone about loving me as I am. I had not realized how much this meant to me until now. Typing it out, I am totally tearing up with gratitude that my folks have been so staunchly in my corner.
On feuding exes and major events:
K.: It's easy for someone on the outside to say they should get over it or set it aside for one day, but it takes some people time.
A friend of mine had feuding family members whom she wanted at her wedding. They were both adamant that they would not attend if the other was there. Her solution was to have one at the ceremony only, and the other at the reception only. She also did separate things with each before the wedding (dinner the night before, and breakfast the day of). It wasn't ideal, but she was able to enjoy her wedding day with her whole family, without major drama and without having to be a referee.