While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On maintaining friendships, postbaby:
S.: I am a mother who wholeheartedly believes that there is responsibility on both sides. Here are some things that have helped us maintain our relationships with childless friends:
(1) Maintain your previous interests, or make an effort to stay up on current events. This way you have something besides poop to talk about.
(2) Cultivate friendships with other parents, since they're the ones who may actually want to have discussions about poop.
(3) Be flexible. It's hard to go out, but perhaps you could have people over to your house after the baby is in bed. Little known fact: parents and non-parents alike enjoy chatting over pizza and beer.
(4) Divide and conquer! I figure there are two parents in our house, so there's always one baby sitter. Yes, new parents need couple time, but solo time with friends is also important.
(5) Don't expect your childless friends to be into your kid, and don't take offense if they aren't. I figure if they weren't into kids before, why should my kid change that? Plus, by coming at it with this attitude, I'm always really touched when childless friends do take an interest in my child.
(6) Remember that childless friends are great because they tend to be more available to hang out on short notice — no scrambling for a sitter!
Carolyn: I'd promote No. 5 to No. 1, but, otherwise, no argument here.
On kids who want to go to different colleges from the ones their parents have in mind:
No Regrets: I knew my parents wanted me to stay close to home for college, but when I said I wanted to look at colleges a few states away because they were close to where my then-boyfriend was in school, my mother took me on a 10-hour trip to visit the campuses. She was enthusiastic about the campus tours, listened to what I thought about each place and gave her impressions when I asked, though I'm sure she was dying to tell 17-year-old me how crazy it was to pick a college just to be close to my boyfriend.
Actually, the whole trip is one of my fondest memories with my mom, which I'm sure it wouldn't have been had she lectured me on how I wasn't ready to go away from home and what would I do if my boyfriend and I broke up (which we eventually did). I realized on my own that picking a school close to my boyfriend was foolish, and the college I did finally choose happened to be just an hour from home. Having my parents' support through the whole process made me more receptive to their thoughts as I made my final decision.
On taking (or not) a husband's last name:
Anonymous: In my experience, if a man has a strong opinion on what a woman should do about her last name when married, that's a huge red flag. I have yet to encounter a good reason for a man to become entrenched on this issue.