Short Answers for Today (Oct. 12)

Hello! It’s time to answer a bunch of short questions on a Friday. Here’s the thread from last time and here’s how it works:

  • Patrons can submit questions at this thread (Advantage: More than 280 characters).
  • Anyone can submit questions anytime via Twitter – @CAwkward, #awkwardfriday. Please use the hashtag, my mentions are busy enough that I might miss it without.
  • Deadline for questions for this week is noon, Chicago time, Friday, Oct. 12. If a question comes in after that, I try to include it next time.
  • I answer as many questions as I can between noon & 2pm. If I think something is too much/too big for the venue, I’ll tell you and we’ll figure something else out.
  • I’m asking people not not submit questions about abuse & sexual harassment & violence in these short answer threads.
  • Comments open when everything is posted.

Since we were talking so much about fashion this week, here is a kitten hate-modeling his shark Halloween costume:

Getting the feeling Daniel Striped Jason Mendoza Tiger does not want to be a shark.
Shark-bonnet available on Etsy should you also want to make a portrait series called “Resignation.”

Here is another kitten hate-modeling her Halloween costume:

The Dread Pirate Henrietta Kim Wexler Pussycat. Hat available from this Etsy seller should you wish to also photograph “Betrayal” in its truest form.

Hint: If you rub catnip all up inside the hats it buys you 45 more seconds of photography, for a total of 90 seconds before they rip the things off and bite them.

Looking forward to your questions! These are really fun to do and I love how much ground we cover.

Q1: My partner and I have been long distance for years, and it’s going to be more years. I love them very much but I feel so lonely. It’s like being single but only the bad parts. I’m also really into someone else. How do I know whether to stick with it or leave?

A1: If you’ve ever read this blog before you know I think you can have strong feelings of love and loyalty for someone and still decide that they aren’t a person you can create a happy, stable life with.

Whenever I get a “I’m torn between two partners” or “How long should I stay in this situation” question my automatic suggestion is to daydream about what you want your life to look like (where do you want to live, do you imagine sharing that home with a partner, what do you want money to be like, do you want to have kids, how do you want to spend your time, are you doing everything you want to with your education and career, what are your friendships & family relationships & social life like). Does staying in your relationship as it is make you feel more confident and happy about your life and your plans for your life? A lot of times we use the question of romantic relationships & where it’s all going as an excuse or a barrier to doing stuff we need to do for ourselves, or as a reason to put things off for someday.

Q2: Any tips for a single straight lady trying to motivate herself to do online dating in Trump’s America? It may be that I spend too much time on Twitter, but I’m having a hard time remembering “not all men.”

A2: If a straight single dude of voting age is in the USA right now and he’s not doing everything in his power to turn out the vote* for the midterms so we have some hope of putting a check on some of the worst of it, why should he even get to make eye contact with you in the next 27 days? (*Or some other concrete form of activism)

Ask me again after November 6.

Q3: Happy Friday, Cap’n! How do I handle coworkers cutting their nails and flossing in the office? I’m a contract worker at a small company, and I’m the youngest there and conflict-avoidant (she/her pronouns). Two coworkers do this, one being the president of the company! My desk is in the hallway and they both have offices. I don’t think I can ask this of the president, but I once asked if I could close my other co-worker’s door while he cut his nails and he seemed genuinely surprised it bothered me. Should I keep doing that? Can I also tell him “hey, I would prefer if you washed your hands before handling equipment we are both touching after you floss?” Please send help!

A3: This is one of those “yep, this is gross and people should really do this in private” questions but also one of those “choose your battles” and “your relative power to these people matters, esp. since you’re a contractor” questions.

Like, you’re correct that the company president isn’t gonna make it a priority, and it could damage your relationship to even bring it up.

As for the other coworker, who expressed surprise when you closed his door, did he start closing his door himself after that or does he keep right on going as if it never happened? I think “Hey, could you wash your hands between flossing and touching equipment?” is a reasonable ask if this is a situation that keeps cropping up, but I can’t promise you it will be friction free for you. They think what they’re doing is normal and you’re the weird one.

Sometimes it helps to present it as a personal quirk and own being The Weird One, like, “It’s my weird quirk, just can’t stand the sound!” or “I know it’s my weird quirk, but I really can’t watch anyone floss.” “Yep, I’m super touchy about it, appreciate your help, thanks!” Are you able to absent yourself from the situation until it’s over, like, “Oh is it nail-clipping time? I’ll be back in a bit” and use that time to take a tea break?

Q4: I moved near my aunt & uncle about a year ago (I’m in the city, they’re just outside in the suburbs) and since then they’ve been incredibly generous toward me. They know I’m essentially living paycheck-to-paycheck (I’m a recent grad) and since they don’t have any children and are fairly well-off, they’ve been doing lovely things to help me out such as taking me out for nice meals, helping me buy bulk groceries, gifting me beautiful older pieces of furniture and even offering to sell me one of their cars for a very discounted rate once my trash car kicks the bucket (likely to happen soon). I house sit/watch their cat for them when they’re out of town, but I want to do more to pay them back for their generosity. They’ve been such a help to me this past year and show no intention of stopping. I try to invite them into the city and treat them for dinner, but my uncle always gets to the check first and insists on them paying! I know they can afford to do all these great things for me, and they want to, but if you or the commenters have any ideas on how else I can express my appreciation, I welcome suggestions!

A4: First, trust that it is their pleasure to do nice things for you. Second, because they know your finances and are in a position to pick up the check, they’re not gonna let you pay for things like dinner out. Which leaves you with:

  • Spend time with them!
  • Send periodic nice handwritten thank you card when they buy you groceries or do something else nice for you!
  • Keep watching their cat & house sitting!
  • Next time you house sit, right before they come home, take an hour to dust the place well and vacuum the floors and otherwise tidy things so the place is fresh and welcoming. Maybe even buy some flowers.

Q5: My first marriage was to a jerk, and is thankfully over. My current sweetie is delightful, and plans to propose soon (this is not speculative, I’ve been included in ring consultations with the jeweler, etc.) BUT my ex proposed on October 22… scripts for asking that he not propose on/near that date? I don’t want the new memories tainted by the last mess.

A5: “I don’t want to ruin any ‘surprises’ you have planned, but can you give me a sense of timing, and if possible, can we do the ‘surprise!’ in November?”

Q6: Occasionally (maybe once every few weeks) my mom will leave a comment on one of my posts or send me a message phrased as a curt, abrupt demand instead of a request. For example, she commented “Ingredients please!” on a photo of my lunch, or texted “Show me your new apartment!” a few days after I had moved. We had not been talking about my new apartment. I cannot express how much this annoys me and puts me on edge. Do you have any scripts for setting and enforcing a boundary around this in a mature and loving way, when I can’t even quite articulate to myself why it annoys me so bad? I don’t want her to stop asking me things altogether, but I very much want her to stop talking to me like I’m the computer on Star Trek.

A6: “Did you mean that as a question?” “Mom, why are you talking to me as if I’m Alexa?”

Q7: No question for you, but Daniel is sooooooo cute!

A7: He’s a total sweetheart. I can’t believe they’ll be 6 months at the beginning of November.

Q8: Applying for a university teaching job. The ad says that they encourage applicants with career interruptions for parental leave, do I point out my career interruption with that cause? Or stick with the strategy of avoiding all hints of family?

A8: It’s great that the institution is encouraging this. In your cover letter, I would make the strongest possible case for yourself based on your credentials, accomplishments, and experience and if you address this, somewhere toward the end/in the paragraphs where you talk about being excited to work with them, compliment them for making explicitly family-friendly practices (WHICH ARE HUMAN BEING-FRIENDLY PRACTICES, LET’S BE CLEAR) part of their recruiting. Best of luck!

Q9: Etiquette Q: When you have guests helping clean up dishes, who gets to say how to load the dishwasher? Defer to the guests because they’re guests helping out, or defer to the host, because it’s their dishes/dishwasher? 

A9: Let it be written and spoken, unto the furthest corner of the land:

If you are hosting dinner guests who offer to help clean up, and you care enough about how the dishwasher is loaded that you would even consider offering verbal instructions in this case (vs. waiting until they’ve left to privately rearrange it yourself), because you are unwilling to let even one load be run with the “wrong” configuration, then you should commit now and forever to a lifetime of doing the dishes your damn self.

And if you are a dinner guest who is helping clean up after a party, and you wish to instruct or correct your hosts on the way to load their dishwasher, I hope you like eating alone for the rest of time (because this is what you deserve from now on).

May the Kindly Ones be gentle with you and with us all.

Q10: Hi there. This question is from a Twitter mutual with her permission. She’s been skipping a particular class due to whispered racist comments by classmates being traumatizing, and wonders how to explain this to her prof.

A10: How awful for her! She should go to office hours and tell the prof what happened, but first she may want to check the school handbook’s language on racist harassment and at least identify the administrative office that handles complaints about this on campus.

It would help if she’s documented who, when, what was said, who also heard it, and anything else about context. Document = written the details down somewhere with a date attached to it.

She should also go into the meeting with an idea of what she would like the professor to do about it and not assume that they know what to do next. Does she want her seat moved? Does she want a way to make up material she missed those days and to have those absences excused? Does she want the offenders talked to or disciplined? Does she want an alternative way to complete the class?

If the professor has been trained in teaching at all (big if!) they may not have been trained in what to do about this. We all get handbooks with harassment policies when we’re hired and sometimes those get updated, but that’s it – students can’t depend on professors having been trained to deal with situations like this. It’s unfair and fucked up, but it’s where we are, so knowing that can help your friend get the most from the meeting. It also means she should document the discussions she has with the prof at the meeting in case she needs to follow up with the school because the prof’s solution was “grow a thicker skin” or some bullshit.

I hope it goes well. Nobody should have to deal with that behavior from classmates.

Q11: A teenage relative recently moved in with my partner and I. She’s a pretty cool kid who is unable to live with her mother because of Reasons. I think we’re doing all right with the basics: warm bed, meals, inclusion, listening. But as a person with zero experience as parent/guardian, what might we be forgetting about? Are there legal, administrative, financial things that need to get sorted? Or just really simple things that not everyone thinks of? She’s shy about asking for things from us, understandably. I’d also really appreciate hearing from commenters who are parents, or who changed homes in their teen years. 

A11: I’m hoping commenters have detailed insight here – the first thing that comes to mind is yes, there are definitely legal things to sort out, like making sure that you have legal standing as her guardian (in case of emergency) and that the school also has you documented as such.

Q12: Ahoy, Cap’n! I have a middle school level dating question even though I’m (she/her) an adult in my early 30s. I’ve been seeing a GREAT guy for the past few weeks – so kind, funny, witty, distinctly not an asshole, great conversationalist…we get along like peaches and cream. And I feel physically drawn to him! But unfortunately, he is bad at The Stuff. I want to kiss him! But when I do, it’s just…not pleasant. Sometimes it verges on actual discomfort. I don’t know what to do with this. It makes me particularly fraught given that I had been dating another guy not too long ago that was the best, hottest, easiest sex of my life – and truth be told, I miss it. I know this new guy doesn’t have a lot of experience, so I’m very sensitive to hurting his feelings/pride/whatever about this, but I just can’t continue with the bad kissing, I like kissing way too much. But I also like HIM as a PERSON and that is really important to me too. Is this something that can be discussed gracefully and maybe even improved over time? Or is this just a fundamental incompatibility? What do?

A12: Sometimes we seem to luck out with a partner here & there whose instincts match what we didn’t even know we needed and it just all happens wordlessly and it’s accidentally just right (what Erica Jong famously called “the zipless fuck”). Well, we luck out until we move on to a new partner and find we don’t have the practice or skills to say “not so much pressure, more like this!” When you’re feeling discomfort during any sexual/romantic activity, you gotta be able to put the brakes on and redirect! Nobody has to be a “bad” kisser or sexy stuff partner for a thing that was really hot that one time to be not so hot now, or for somebody’s knee to get in a weird position. We’ve all got bodies, bodies are weird, and  “not so much with that, let’s try this instead” has to become part of everybody’s vocabulary, both to say and to hear!

We all start somewhere. This guy isn’t experienced, so, you are his experience and you can be a good one. Maybe try saying “Can I show you how I really like to be kissed?” and then take the lead and demonstrate. And be specific: “I really like when you put your hands here.” “I really like to go slow.” “I really like this much tongue/not that much.” 

One of my favorite early-dating memories with Mr. Awkward was the night we created a hilarious catalogue of purposefully terrible kissing and gave it all names – “The Dentist,” “The Somnambulist,” “The Prober,” etc. He and I had excellent baseline kissing compatibility, but giving names to the stuff we didn’t like helped confirm what we did. I offer this up to you as a fun kissing game.

Q13: We see so many examples of bad relationship modeling on the big/ small screen. Any examples of movies or TV that do relationships right? The Addams Family? The Santa Clarita Diet? What else?

A13: This is a great question that someone should compile (and get paid) to write as a Buzzfeed or Bitch or Bustle pitch. T’Challa & Nakia?

IDK, while I love The Addams Family, to give you an idea how much this is not the criteria that I use to guide my personal escapist viewing consumption, the last two movies I watched were A Star Is Born (the new one, maybe someday I’ll get ‘Shallow’ out of my head but not today) and Three Colors: White (I don’t want to spoil it, but married people gettin’ revenge on each other is definitely a theme).

Q14: Hey Cap! It’s a year since I broke up with my exhausting ex! What’s some good music to add to my “I Am So Angry At Men” playlist? Thanks lots!

A14: I have recent experience that Tori Amos’s Precious Things will make the men very quiet and the women all sing along when you do it at karaoke: “I WANNA SMASH THE FACES/OF THOSE BEAUTIFUL BOYS/THOSE CHRISTIAN BOYS AIEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”

Q15: My (long distance) partner is planning on moving over early next year and we’re planning on moving in together. I think I’ve figured out how to support him in building his own local social groups through your other blog posts but I’m wondering if you have any tips on how I can remind myself to step back and not try and do this for him. I know I’m going to need time to maintain my own social network and because I’ll be working and he’ll be at home job hunting I know I’ll feel bad if I’m out and he’s alone some evenings too!

A15: Hi, I do have tips on that, because you are talking about a move that hasn’t even happened yet and you’re already doing emotional labor about whether another adult person will make his own friends! Is he doing anything about this, like, seeing what groups & activities meet his own interests in your area? Also, what does he do with his free time/hobbies/sports/interests now? (I ask b/c how social he tends to be is unlikely to change).

What you can do is nurture and invest in your own social life, of which he is part but not all.

What you can do after he moves is make it clear that you’re glad he’s here and plan time with him, invite him along to some things, but also make it clear that you want to do your own thing sometimes, and keep doing those alone- or friends- things that make you happy.

And if he’s lonely, he can make some friends or find social stuff to do!

Until he does stuff, do zero stuff! (And maybe not even then!)

That’s all for this week, happy weekend, happy commenting, happy dressing your pets in costumes. Comments are open. Moderation will be light over the weekend, as usual, so if something gets stuck in the spam trap don’t panic – I’ll set it free as I can.

388 thoughts on “Short Answers for Today (Oct. 12)

    1. I am Q14! I am totally into pop, but tend to lean heavily towards “stuff I can sing along to loudly and passionately like a classic opera diva”, which makes most non-English stuff less keen for me. Happy to hear recs in general though, and given how many of my friends love KPop, I should probably just accept my fate and see what it’s all about sometime. 🙂

      1. After I split from my ex I listened to lots of angry women yelling music. Particularly Alanis Morissette, No Doubt, lots of blues singers like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I deleted pretty much everything sung by dudes.

        (Link to Alanis Morissette’s “you oughta know”)

        1. Maybe I’m completely wrong about “Human” by Rag n’ Bone Man- but that song… riles me up… To me it sounds like a (red neck) member of the 1% (over-)privileged in this world going on and on about how it (what exactly??) isn’t his fault. And on top of that plagiarising the singing and music style of a people his privileged class disenfrachised for so long and is working hard to continue. Gah- in my country it’s played over and over again (just like Robin Thicke’s Rape Song) and I can’t listen to this whinger anymore!!!

        2. Alanis is my goto for any angry women thing. Boyfriend trying to heap his issues on me? Not the Doctor. My male dominated industry full of misogyny over-whelming me? Right through you. And then once I calm down, I listen to the others off that album.

      2. Bloody Motherfucking Asshole by Martha Wainwright is an angry yell-along fav of mine. (“I will not pretend/I will not put on a smile/I will not say I’m all right for you”)

      3. Sinead O’Connor – Troy

        I’d go with anything from her first two albums, really, but that song is INCREDIBLY powerful.

        1. +1. A+ recommendation.

          I recently did my first re-listen of this album in almost 2 decades, and yup, can confirm, I belted out the words of this song as though they were being yanked from the very depths of my soul (even though I am pretty happily married and haven’t been through romantic heartache in oher a decade).

  1. #13: Bob’s Burgers has a really delightful family dynamic. They’re not perfect but they are warm, kind and supportive to each other.

    1. Yes! I was going to say Bob & Linda. They have a great, warm, lived-in relationship. You can tell they like each other. “Come back safe, Bobby! Don’t leave me with these friggin’ kids!”

    2. Seconding Bob’s Burgers! I also love that, while clearly the kids are aggravating sometimes, both parents try to build relationships with each of them. I think that dynamic plays out realistically while still being very warm.

    3. Bob’s Burgers has been my favorite since “Malcolm in the Middle” went off the air. I liked “Malcolm in the Middle” because all of the family members have their strengths and weaknesses, but do their best to support each other during rough times.

    4. 100% Bob & Linda. I would also add Burt & Virginia from Raising Hope. While the Jimmy/Sabrina relationship started out…. Not great (a little stalkery), I always found Burt & Virginia to be lovely, caring, and kind to each other.

  2. Q11 in my experience kids from houses with Reasons haven’t always had the same opportunities and so don’t think of the things they might want to ask for, even if they think that asking for things that would be nice-but-not-necessary is a thing. It might be worth gently asking what their friends do in the weekends, after school, as hobbies, with family, for fun and then seeing if any of those seem to spark, and then suggesting doing them. Similarly I’ve done asking friends with similar age kids for local popular and fun things, and then suggested to the kid at mine that we do those things or go those places.

    An example from our house, a child who would never have thought to ask for swimming lessons absolutely loves them.

    1. We had my cousin come live with us when I was a teenager because of Reasons with his parents. He was younger than a teenager at the time but stayed through his teen years. I can only really point to things that my parents did wrong that really stand out at me now that i’m grown and more mature but: You said there was a warm bed, but does she also have her own space where she can have privacy? A room that is hers that you still don’t store things in/ use all the time? My cousin lived in the guest room for YEARS and my dad still kept all his clothing in there and went in and out all the time without knocking. My cousin could never add personal touches or had much room for his things, or any sense of privacy. Looking back I am so appalled that happened for so long.

      Also if you can try to create some kind of activity that you can do together on a regular schedule. Something that happens once a month and can be relied upon. It will help make her feel like part of the family and reassure her that there are things in the future with family that will continue.

      1. I had a teen living with me for Reasons when I was in my 20s and one thing I did was try to do “Family traditions” from my childhood that I had liked. One big one was that my parents always gave little goofy presents for holidays like Valentine ‘s day, St Patrick’s day, Halloween, etc (including, like, mailing conversation hearts to me in college). She arrived in January and had broken up with a boyfriend in the same time period, so I had her help me plan a Valentine’s day dinner party for “our family and friends” (her, me, my fiance, our roommate, her friend from work at the mall, a friend of mine she also knew). That became annual and we still do it. 🙂

        This time of year, maybe involve her in planning/placing Halloween decor, handing out candy, etc so she’s a contributing member of the family (my teen felt guilty for being “a burden” to me and responded well to concrete requests for appropriate help with household tasks).

        Also, seconding making sure Teen has privacy, opportunity to decorate an area (mine got sticky tack, access to our combined poster reserves, and an invitation to put up her own stuff too).

        Think through your day and make sure to provide the types of things you need for: breakfast, personal grooming, hygiene, clothes, transportation, lunch, snacks, work/school supplies, snacks, entertainment, dinner.

        We have a grocery list posted on the fridge that we add to as needed–maybe something like that, for written requests rather than verbalized ones?

        Good luck and keep listening! You’re awesome for opening your home.

    2. I’m not a parent or kid who changed homes when a teenager but my family fostered a couple teens when I was a kid. We had a cousin live with us when she was fifteen because of reasons and then years later were a foster family for a summer for a teenager. Things I remember:

      1) When my cousin who was fifteen said that her mom made her a full breakfast every morning, my mom said “That’s not how things get done here.” My mom mentioned she regrets handling it that way. She wishes that she was more patient with her and made her a full breakfast so that she got to keep one of her family’s rituals. Sometimes foster kids really need to cling to something that was good about their old situation.

      2) Kids who are in different homes are going to go through honeymoon phases where they’re on their best behavior. So they might not be verbalizing about things they need because they’re too shy to ask. Invite them into things don’t wait for them to join. They might need money for school supplies and not want to ask.

      3) Something that my parents did for my cousin was that they called on their friend who had a sixteen year old daughter and basically introduced them so that my cousin had one friend her age. She was introduced to her before the school year started so she knew one person before the year started at least. They also signed her up for the youth group at church so that she could be around teenagers in a structured, safe, social environment. Does your teenaged relative want to join something like a girl scout troop? A sports league? A creative writing group at a local community center? It’s good to arrange for your relative to have something they can go to where they can make friends their own age.

      You might want to look into books, etc that are resources for foster parents. That’s essentially what you’re doing right now and I remember my parents read a bunch during the training to be a foster family.

      1. Your mention of church makes me think of another consideration: are her religious needs different from your own? Can you make sure her religious needs are met (i.e. make sure she has the opportunity to go to her own church)? If you have a religious community that could be a resource to her, could you make sure it’s available to her without forcing your faith upon her?

        1. flip side…please don’t FORCE religion on her in any way shape or form! The vast majority of religions in the US are have at least a significant chunk of their membership/leadership who are all about the ‘everything happens for a reason’ crap…a kid living away from home does not need to be told REASONS were good/deserved in some way and she should be grateful some dude in the sky decided to inflict them on her.

          (Sorry, have far too many dear friends who had things that were bad enough as is ranging from physical abuse by parents/partners to sexual assault be made infinitely more damaging by years of the church telling them they deserved what happened, god’s plan, blah blah blah)

    3. I agree and this could apply even to basic physical needs. When my younger sister moved as a young teen into my older brother’s house (see, Reasons), I visited from college to find nary a maxi pad or tampon in the house. My brother didn’t think of it and my sister was too shy to ask. He also hadn’t realized she needed money for lunch at school (he really was doing his best as a young guy just out of college trying to take care of a kid, but still– feed the kid!) I think in this situation it is important to anticipate that nervousness to ask for anything. I also second trying to get whatever legal custody arrangement you can, if at all possible. As the youngest of our family, my sister really bore the brunt of the Reasons and I remember her desperate desire to turn 18 because she knew that she would no longer be at risk of being placed in a foster home. So any reassurance that the new situation is going to be stable for some length of time can go a long way toward helping a kid feel safe.

    4. Lots of good advice for Q11 already, but I didn’t notice any mention of something that’s been on my mind since I had to evacuate after a hurricane: Don’t forget to sort out any necessary travel documents for your foster teen. All the best to your family, you are doing a wonderful thing.

  3. #13– Wash and Zoe from “Firefly” always stood out to me as an egalitarian couple, and one that resolves their problems in a mutually respectful way.

    1. Nice!

      Nick and Nora Charles, for me, although maybe they are a touch too liver-damaged to qualify as “healthy.”

    2. I was really surprised and impressed with Max and Annie from Game Night. Their courtship montage was really cute, they were a good team and supportive of each other. When his brother was cruel to him in a gas-lightly way she recognized it and had his back. They just a surprisingly well written couple. I like that they let her be cool in her own way and not just the nagging wife.

      I wish I could think of a T.V. show but am coming up so blank. This is gonna drive me nuts.

      It’s not what the LW asked for but I would like to add that I have always adored Rizzoli and Isles as one of the best examples of strong characters with a strong female friendship and strong professional presence on TV. So few cop shows have really great female characters, and this once has two great characters who had once of the best, organic feeling friendships I have seen on TV. They really felt like friends, not just people who happened to be friends for plot reasons.

    3. The Taylors from Friday Night Lights. The teen couples are very teenage, but Coach and Ms. T had a very believable, lived in relationship. They had no problem calling each other out when they were upset at each other, but it was never in doubt that they were working from a baseline of love and respect.

    4. Pretty much all the relationships in Leverage are really great, including with ex’s, which is particularly rare.

      In White Collar, Peter and El have a wonderful relationship, though not all other relationship on the show are as well-written.

      1. Also, my sister just reminded me of Midsomer Murders. The main character, DCI Barnaby, is in a happy, healthy, caring family.

        1. It’s funny you should mention that. I’ve watched it for years and always think Tom Barnaby was very condescending towards his wife. And the slightly behind-her-back sniping about her cooking wasn’t funny to me.

          1. I concur about the unfunniness of the cooking thing, but Joyce could also be condescending to Tom — she tended to get her own back when he’d been being a jerk. But overall, I got the feeling they respected each other, and definitely loved each other. And nobody, and no relationship, is perfect all the time.

      2. All the final relationships in Parks and Recreation! They all try out some relationships that don’t work along the way, but the ones they all end up in are awesome. And feminist, and respectful, and playful, and really value external friendships as well… so sad I’m done watching that show.

    5. On The West Wing, President Bartlet and Mrs. Bartlet. They have a lot of arguments about big presidential stuff but they have so much respect for each other and you can tell they are a team even when they disagree.

    6. How about Nick & Juliette on Grimm? (Caveat, I’ve only watched the first 2.5 seasons because I dont have much free time when the child isn’t awake…)


    Ahem. Your cats are indeed very pleasing to look upon and well-named. (Mine is black and loves to sleep on my Halloween decorations and it makes me ridiculously happy when I see this.)

    W/R/T # 11: having gained unexpected custody of a ward or two, never underestimate the power of showing up in person at the school (although these days, call ahead). Never assume a voicemail is going to reach its target within the next two months. Ask for an appointment with the school counselor, if they have one: counselors have seen EVERYTHING and will have great suggestions. Oh, and make sure you have two copies, one in a remote location on in a “right there” place (I like to staple a large envelope to the back of that year’s calendar), of any birth certificates and other vital documents needed. Also be aware in situations like this that there may be trauma they’re holding back on telling you because they fear it will reflect badly on them. (Example redacted.) Be kind to them and yourself. You’re doing a good thing, but it can be hard at times.

    1. Brooklyn 99! I have some irritations with the Jake and Amy relationship early on, but once it gets moving they are a great couple.

      1. Captain Holt & Kevin Cozner are my favorite couple, only partly because they remind me of me and my husband. Also the actors are great.

    2. OMG I missed this thread and posted about B99 below! Ahahaha. I’m so glad B99 is getting all the love in this post!

    3. Ben and Leslie are my couple goals forever. Especially with a career woman in love with a career man who needs hope that we can both get what we need career-wise and stay madly in love.

  5. For Q4, I’m an aunt who is reasonably well off (and certainly far better off than my college-aged niece). I enjoy being able to help her with stuff and would not actually want her to pay for a meal out or some such, because I can afford that kind of thing much more than she can! The Captain has some great ideas for showing your appreciation in other ways, and I thought I’d add two more that I find nice.

    I really love getting photos from my niece — she’ll text me selfies sometimes, or pictures of things she’s doing. Similarly, she knows that I like specific kinds of live performances, and she’ll send me links when she hears of stuff that I might not have heard about. Basically, it’s a way that she can let me know that she’s thinking about me, which is always lovely.

    1. I’m a baker so my go-to is always baking people something when I’m grateful. If you have a hobby or a skill you could try to employ it here. If you knit or craft you could make them something?

      Or if you do want to spend a little money try picking up something you know personally they really like. You could try picking up some fancy chocolates you know they like – or go to an out of the way bakery for a coffee cake you know they love? If you’re old enough a bottle of their favorite wine or booze can never go amiss. Something specific to them.

      1. Agreed with this! I’m not much of a baker but I do a pretty good banana bread. The last time I dogsat/house-sat for a friend’s parents, I left them freshly-baked banana bread to come home to (because honestly they’re really doing me a favor by having me there, the dog is an angel and they pay SUPER well). From what I hear, it was a nice surprise!

    2. I too am an aunt without kids of my own. My sobrinos are all under 10, so the relationship is different from Q4. However, I too appreciate just being able to get photos and updates! My partner and I have added “guest room for a sobrino when they want to run away from home” to our future housing plans, and just appreciate being a resource.

      My sister and I also have a good relationship with our childfree aunt. She loves hosting us whenever we come into town, and staying up late talking about everything, including family history. She just likes spending time with us. I’ve knitted her fingerless mitts and we always cook for her when we stay. She’s not much for distance contact beyond sporadic emails, so I mostly make that in-person time count.

    3. Thank you all for these wonderful suggestions! It’s true that when I was with my aunt & uncle just earlier this week, I was showing my aunt my Instagram page and I swear she spent almost 30 min just scrolling through my pictures happily to see what I’d been up to recently. I’ll make a note to text her things like selfies/updates on fun weekend activities more often! While I cannot knit (I wish!), I do love to bake, so maybe next time I house sit I can bake them some nice pumpkin bread or scones for when they return. thanks!!

      1. You know, being a reliable catsitter and a niece who is good company are already two big things! Baking is lovely, and I really think you can feel free to enjoy their hospitality and kindness as much as they clearly enjoy offering it.

      2. You can use Postagram or ITouch to send Instagram and selfie photos through the mail as postcards. It’s easy, inexpensive, and everyone likes happy mail. The year my sister-in-law had cancer I sent her one almost every week even if it was just of a wildflower or the geese crossing the road that made a New Hampshire traffic jam. I found out later she’d saved them all.

      3. Also think of it as something you might repay in the future, as they are getting older they might need assistance health and social care wise etc. I don’t want to make it seem as if it’s your generational duty to repay them by becoming their primary carer or general Person-to-Lean-On, but that is one huge way to repay, to give them a feeling of family warmth, familiarity, home etc. when their health, memory etc. are failing and maybe one of them continues life widowed for a long time.

      4. I was going to say think of things which you can do which involve your time/effort rather than money – the occasional hand written note, e-mails updating them about what you are doing and a few photos, baking something.
        Don’t under-estimate the value of letting them in – sharing news or information about stuff which is important to you.
        I’ve been in the position of being the person who is older / in a financially stronger position and have been able to help out, and I’ve always done it because I wanted to, because I cared about the recipient, not because I wanted something back, but getting a handwritten letter, or a phone call to tell me about something they had achieved, or a postcard because they’d sen one they thought would appeal, and had taken the trouble to buy and post it to me, all meant a huge amount to me.

    4. I am both child-free (on purpose and planning to stay that way) and an aunt to a niece and nephew. Half of my life goals right now are to one day be in a position to help them out. (Literature has a lot of inspiring wealthy, spinster-aunts.) They’re very small now, but I would be delighted to one day be in the position of your aunt and uncle. I think you’re right to be grateful and want to convey that/give back where you can. But you definitely shouldn’t feel guilty or like you’re some kind of burden. They’re probably having a ball and think you’re delightful.

      1. I do feel a bit guilty (I’ve always felt guilty when receiving gifts/help of any sort my whole life), but I am trying to remind myself that what they’re doing for me isn’t putting any undue hardship on them and that they want to do these things!

        1. Definitely don’t feel guilty. I can almost guarantee that buying you stuff gives them more pleasure than buying stuff for themselves. It would also probably anger them if you spent money on them. Just remember to be thankful and also ask them if there is anything you can do for them. Having someone you can trust is not easy to find outside of family.

        2. They clearly want you to spend money and not time, and most suggestions here reflect this.

          Write them cards with specific examples of how their kindness has been helpful, offer to cook them a meal (they can even buy the ingredients), and as suggested keep them updated with words and/or photos.

          Also – a good cat-sitter (staying overnight and caring for the home) is $25-50 / day, so how much have you saved them? Their support of you is a way of ‘paying’ you (I say this as someone who has used the tactic to reduce some of my guilt for their generosity)

        3. When find myself in that situation I remind myself that:
          a) they’re adults b) they know their finances better than I do and c) they’re adults.

          Part of adulting is spending your own money how you wish and if that’s how they wish to spend it, then all power to them.

          ps: also an aunt. I love it. I spoil my nieces & nephews more than my own kids because that’s the cool thing about being Aunty instead of Mum 😉

      2. As a child-free person about to become an aunt (!!!!), I’m very excited in large part because that kind of supportive non-parent role is exactly what I want to be for kids. I mean, it’ll be a while before we get to that stage–babies want mom and dad, not cool aunt who’ll take them out for dinner–but I’m already so looking forward to it. ‘The cool aunt’ sounds like the best child-related job to me.

        1. Cool aunts who will pretend to be superheroes, villains, or kitty cats as the role demands are also appreciated

          1. And also hair-dresser models, if you wear your hair at a length to play with.

            (While making it clear that scissors are not allowed but, interestingly, most kids actually Get That.)

        2. As someone who became an aunt at the ripe old age of seven (my brothers are significantly older than I am), I can report that being the cool aunt rocks out loud!

          One of my aunts did a thing with me and her other niblings (she has quite a few, because she’s the second of five children) when we got to be teenagers or close to it where, for our birthdays, she’d take us out to lunch and out shopping with a budget (she told us how much it was), and that was one of the most fun things about growing up to me. I got to spend time one-on-one with an adult in my family who listened to what I said, and I got to get cool stuff (including, one year, the most 80’s-licious pair of jeans in the history of fashion; I’m around the middle of Gen X) and my aunt didn’t have to try to figure out teenagers’ fashion preferences, so win-win!

          The time when that might be a thing you’d be able to do with your as-yet-unborn nibling is probably a ways off, but it’s something to keep in your back pocket for when the kiddo is older (and if you can afford to do that kind of thing, too; don’t strain your budget!).

          1. My sister’s eldest is turning 7 this year (how????) so I definitely want to tuck this away for her 12th or 13th birthday since I’ll have to plan a trip out to make it happen. I try to fly out to see them all (sister has 4 children) once a year if I can so hopefully I can just plan that year’s trip to be around her birthday.

            Being an aunt is THE BEST and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, especially now that they’re getting older. ❤

          2. +1 for shopping days (on a budget, or motivation based).
            When my oldest niece turned 13 I figured she was too old for common toys, so I scheduled a shopping day for her birthday. It was fun and interesting to get her view on (among a host of other things!) contemporary fashion styles, both for girls her age and for older ones.
            We got her some jeans, skirts, and a denim jacket with fake-sheep-fur lining that she wore the absolute crap out of it for the next 2 years! She wore it every time I saw her, and sometimes I even think she slept in it 🙂
            Warms my uncle-y heart when almost 10 years later she still refers to it as rhe “awesomest jacket eevar!”

            So yes, scheduled shopping days with the niblings have been a tradition ever since.

        3. Same! The niblings are at the baby to preschool range right now, and I’m really looking forward to their getting old enough for proper auntie-ing.

        4. As the mother of a very small child who adores his aunt, that might come sooner than you think. My sister takes my kid for the day often, which give me and my partner a break, and has the happy effect of the kid is not yet two years old, and is very clear who auntie is and how much fun she is! Babies and mom and dad . . . and any other adult who is around often and is warm and has food.

          1. Kiddo will have multiple grandmas within a five minute drive of him, so I suspect this role will end up going to them (I’m closer to 2 hours out–close enough to visit regularly, but not to be there every day, unfortunately). But I’ll keep that in mind! His parents definitely have lots of excited family waiting to help out however they want us to.

  6. Q11: Definitely make sure that you have standing as her legal guardian, especially if this is a long-term/permanent thing. Make sure that the school has you listed as her guardian (and if there’s a potential safety issue, make sure they’re aware of who SHOULD NOT be able to pick her up from school, especially if ‘teenage’ means ‘young teenager’). Umm… medical records, vaccination records especially are something you’ll need, and make sure to update her address and contact info with schools/doctors/dentists.

    Q13: LEVERAGE. Leverage has some of the sweetest, healthiest romantic relationships I’ve seen on TV: Hardison/Parker especially is so amazingly gentle and sweet and goofy even when one or both characters are being failboats. And the male character is the one with people skills and emotional intelligence! And they take care of each other and share each other’s interests and genuinely love and support and respect each other, and it’s awesome. (This scene is everything I love about their courtship in a nutshell: Also it’s a show about how rich people are ruining the world and should be conned for everything they’re worth, so there’s that. Also Aldis Hodge.

    1. > medical records, vaccination records especially are something you’ll need, and make sure to update her address and contact info with schools/doctors/dentists

      Also basic identification stuff — social security card and birth certificate. If these can’t be gotten from the parents, get established as legal guardians and then start the annoying process of acquiring legal copies of them.

      Ask the kid if she’d like to be involved in all of this! It won’t be long before she’s an independent adult, and it might be useful for her to see what’s involved in requesting medical records, establishing care with a doctor and a dentist, getting new glasses, registering for school, etc.

      1. And financial stuff, depending on where you are: bank accounts, government benefits, insurance, tax info etc

        Teens need everything adults need with some extra flexibility and patience thrown in. Do not underestimate the importance of have a computer and/or phone for school and personal use*. If anything those are more important to teens than they are to adults.

        *within reason and with appropriate supervision.

    2. Oh my gosh yes!!! A big second on that scene…it’s probably my favorite out the whole series….Aldis Hodge is one those delightful people who I look at and think..”If I were 20 years younger and single.”. He’s absolutely fantastic!!!!

    3. I adore the Parker/Hardison dynamic. And the Pretzels. (I may have a friend who committed fic once, that included a delightful line about pretzels).

    4. Legal guardianship isn’t necessarily the ‘best’ thing to push for in some cases. When I had a teen at my place short term, I was providing her with a safe space and a place to see what normal looked like. But I knew I had no standing to make that legal, and trying would have caused parents to want her back. That one is a loaded bomb sometimes and at times what’s best for the child might include a host who doesn’t necessarily have legal CONTROL. Bc that’s what’s the legal thing is about: who controls what. It’s a good thing if you can but I’ve seen from experience how a neglectful or outright abusuve parent suddenly wants the kid once a legal situation is raised.

      1. Good point!

        But in the situation where I had a teen whose life was difficult, I think I’d invest some “coaching” energy in helping her/him round up all the legal documents, etc., and get familiar with things like medical records, etc.

        So that this control would be something they felt comfortable with.

    5. >Make sure that the school has you listed as her guardian
      Make sure her doctor (if she has one) has you listed as her guardian, too, or at least has you listed as someone who’s got legal standing to do stuff like “get her vaccinations done” and “be contacted if there’s a medical issue”. If she doesn’t have a doctor, then…idk – try to figure out how to get a note or something from her parents so that you can stand as her guardian at the walk-in clinic, I guess?

  7. Q9. Host allows guests to load dishwasher any way they like. Host tells guests that Host always runs the dishwasher the next morning/12 hours later for made up reasons. Host rearranges or reloads dishwasher to personal preferences when alone.

    1. Alternately: Host tells guests “I like to do the dishes myself! Let’s just finish this wine.”

      1. Q9. This isn’t dishwasher specific, but it does work. When the meal is over, I stand up while saying “take your plate and silverware and follow me.” I then lead the way to the kitchen and demonstrate scraping my plate over the garbage and then to the sink where I rinse my own plate. I’ve never had a guest who didn’t cheerfully follow along. I then place my plate in the sink and put the silverware in the sink and off to the side. Most won’t try to load the dishwasher at that point. But then again, I don’t have LW9’s guests. I have good results with using a cheerful voice while giving pretty specific instructions especially as to WHERE things are. I don’t say “help clear the table,” and I don’t say “put the leftovers away.” I do say “this goes in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap there (pointing to where it’s kept on top of the refrigerator) on the 3rd shelf down.” My guests then grin because I’ve made it so easy. I find that my guests are delighted to help but afraid of making a mistake and afraid of looking through my cupboards and basically paralyzed in other people’s kitchens. Telling them where things are helps better than anything. Back to LW9– The other reason this works for me is that I honestly don’t care where things go in the dishwasher. I don’t care where they go in the refrigerator either, but I give specific locations because it helps put guests at ease. So if it does matter to you, I go back to rearranging everything later. (And I never tell people to clear their glasses from the dinner table. Everyone always gets thirsty later and needs more water or wine.)

        1. Huh.

          I would be utterly appalled if my dinner host did that. And I don’t mean that in a “How dare you behave that way;” it’s more marveling at the differences in culture/generations/etc.

          For my specific culture/group, hosts do the cleaning up. Guests can ask, but usually get told “Oh, don’t bother; I’d rather spend the time with you.” There’s a level of family/friend where they can help out, but at that level of closeness, everyone knows everyone else’s preferences and tries to accommodate. And there, the rule is “Whoever cares about how the dishwasher is loaded gets to load the damned thing or rearrange after everyone else has left the kitchen.”

          1. I’m happy with this level of hosting once in a while. However, I’ve often been in a situation where I’ve had the house that is best set up for hosting in a group of friends… I love cooking so I don’t mind that level of extra work but I’ll be damned if I’m the only one cleaning up for 8 people on the reg. Luckily I have amazing friends who all fall over themselves to help clean up, and I do the same when I’m a guest.

          2. My family did it your way too, and I was happy to play along until I realized that only women clean up the table, and “I’d rather spend the time with you” means bupkis if I’m getting up and walking away from the dinner table.

          3. Out of nesting but AnonBee, I can still remember my anger when I was middle school age and after one holiday dinner, my aunt told me I was old enough to start helping clean up/wash dishes…but my 1 year OLDER brother got to sit on his ass with the rest of the men. I can’t remember if I pointed that out, but my resentment must have been pretty obvious, because it was also the LAST time I was required to do so.
            I’m 51, so you can see what an impact that moment had on me for me to be able to remember it that long. And the most ironic part of all is that this is one of the things that happened that made me, a feminist since the age of 9 or 10, consider my family hopelessly old fashioned in regards to gender relations when in all actuality it was one of just a few idiosyncrasies in my extraordinarily progressive family’s behaviors, because in reality I grew up around both men & women who not only err light years ahead of the curve back then in the 70s & 80s, but even MORE so for their own generations, as my PARENTS had grown up in the 30s and 40s! And because I’d been surrounded by people like this my entire life, I had no idea how misogynistic the REST of society actually was until much, much later, and it came as a real shock to me.

      2. i agree w/ the Captain here. When a guest wants to help, the host stops being “the one who lets you do everything” and becomes “the one in charge of the workflow.”

        And the host says, “Thanks for offering to help! Just stack the places here; I’ll load the dishwasher later because I know my dishwasher best.”
        And the guest says, “Sure!”

        This shouldn’t be A Thing.
        The host should use their words, and the guest should follow directions.

        I found that I needed to NOT leave a power vacuum when it was time to clear the table after a dinner party, or all the Helpful Guests would be pushing me around in my own kitchen, all of them all at once. When people would say, “How can I help?” I’d say, “Well, Jenny is helping with the salad; I’ll get you to help with clearing up.”

    2. I have an exceedingly wee kitchen. I also hate other people under my elbows. Whenever I have guests, and because they are kind they offer to Help In The Kitchen, i have a script, delivered with the broadest smile I can muster: [i]I say this with love: I honor and appreciate your offer, but get the fuck out of my kitchen. Here, have a cocktail! [/i] And because they are kind, they leave my kitchen to me and enjoy adult beverages.

    3. I’ll admit, I’m a bit relieved to find that I’m not the only one who rearranges the dishes after people leave and/or that that is an acceptable solution. I always feel slightly guilty when I do it, like I’m undoing/negating other people’s work, but also it would drive me nuts to the point of having to re-wash all the dishes if I just left it sooooo….

      I’d really prefer the “Oh, let’s not cleanup now, I’ll just get it later, let’s hangout and have fun!” avoiding the whole issue, but this problem* only ever comes up with family, who all have strong opinions on The Correct Way To Load The Dishwasher and who also seem to think that just leaving things in the sink for later is a Mortal Sin.

      *most trivial, not really worth stressing out over problem ever

      1. If you don’t want to head them off, then think of it as them “getting the dishes out of the way of the counter,” and maybe “staging the dishwasher,” for the expert to come along later and edit.

        Everybody needs an editor, right?

      2. I don’t have super strong preferences about what goes where (okay that’s a lie, but I accept that multiple efficient configurations are possible), but there ARE certain things that Do Not Go into the dishwasher. Anything with wood on it, anything I made myself (which is most of our mugs), and anything that I know not to be dishwasher-friendly because the packaging said so. I’ve learned that I have more hang-ups about dishwashers than 100% of my friends/family, but I consider my hang-ups to be on the rational/reasonable side of things, and y’know, it’s my dishwasher and my dishes, so…

        When we have guests staying for more than a night, I usually try to gently remind them “Oh hey, the handmade mugs don’t go in the dishwasher, just leave them on the counter and I’ll handwash later.” This has NEVER ONCE worked. They’ll take the mug out that time, but put it right back in the next time. At some point it’s way more awkward for me to keep reminding them than for me to quietly fix it later. So I just fix it later.

        When we have dinner guests, I say nothing and let people do whatever, then rearrange and run the dishwasher after they’re gone. This has backfired once, when someone put a special ice cream scoop in there (per the package, not dishwasher friendly), I didn’t notice, and it was ruined. (It still functions as a scoop, but the anti-freeze properties are gone.) It was brand new and I was pretty annoyed. So I’m more diligent with checking before I run now.

        Basically… whether I try to gently express preferences/house rules or I say nothing, the outcome is the same and I have to quietly fix things later. So it’s easier just not to say anything most of the time.

        1. Yeah, I definitely think you can give one simple instruction: “Wooden things, sharp knives, and pots/pans get handwashed!” etc with the knowledge you’ll have to do a quick check beforehand.

          Otherwise you can be right about the dishwasher or you can have help.

          (That said, I doubt I could tell a handmade mug from a regular one? Same as people usually struggle to tell which knives I do and don’t put in the dishwasher.)

        2. Yeah, I definitely think you can give one simple instruction: “Wooden things, sharp knives, and pots/pans get handwashed!” etc with the knowledge you’ll have to do a quick check beforehand.

          Otherwise you can be right about the dishwasher or you can have help.

          (That said, I doubt I could tell a handmade mug from a regular one? Same as people usually struggle to tell which knives I do and don’t put in the dishwasher.)

        3. Many years ago, I was taking care of my dad’s apartment, and it was the first time I’d had unsupervised access to a dishwasher. I had no idea that some items were not dishwasher-safe. >.< Luckily I didn't *melt* anything, but the pretty gold decorations on some of his glasses ended up all over *everything*.

      3. I have a very finicky dishwasher; if it’s loaded wrong, at best you’ll have unwashed patches, at worst you’ll block the spinny arm and/or the detergent dispenser and end up with an entire load of baked-on food, some of which will need cleaning by hand now. It’s also small enough that most of the dishes have to be loaded in a specific order. All I want is for people to leave their dishes in the general vicinity and let me load it later. (But I’ve only hosted one or two parties since getting it, so it hasn’t been an issue except when my husband tries to be a bit too ‘helpful’).

    4. A good made-up reason for running the dishwasher later: “It runs really loud and makes it difficult to have a conversation. I’ll run it after everyone leaves”

      1. In our house, the dishwasher gets run (when it gets run, we don’t usually have enough dishes for that) after most people have gone to bed, because our house is old, and it’s easy to blow the fuses in the kitchen if you run too much electricity at once. So it’s basically: microwave, toaster oven, dishwasher- PICK ONE.
        Also, my dad added 9 rooms on to our house in the early 1970s, so there are TWO fuse boxes, and the original one for the kitchen is in our roommates bedroom, making it even more important we not blow the fuse all the time ! Lol!

    5. my wife-in-law is incredibly picky about how her dishes are done, and she 100% admits this to all her friends. There are a handful of people she trusts to help her with dishes based on past experience, but otherwise she’s just very open about saying, “no, I find it incredibly stressful when other people do my dishes and I don’t like it. You can help me bring all the dishes in and stack them, but please leave the washing to me.

  8. LW4, are you a cook, baker, or crafty person of any variety? Because I assure you the occasional batch of cookies or hand-knitted scarf will surprise and delight your relatives far beyond any kind of “repayment.”

    1. Yes! I replied to another commenter above, but I do love to bake. I will definitely try to make more of an effort to bake my aunt & uncle some fun treats for the future! I’m sure they’ll really appreciate it 🙂

      1. Imagine coming home from a weekend that was great but the drive home was stressful due to Reasons. You walk in and notice that not only is everything tidy, there’s a delicious smell of freshly baked [whatever]. I think that’s a *great* thing for you to do for your kind relatives.

        If it were me, coming home stressed or even just tired, I would immediately declare if “Chocolate Chip Cookies For Dinner Day.” And then I’d eat nothing but cookies.

      2. yep, really just do “thoughtful, caring thing for you that is within my wheelhouse / means.”

        Whatever it is.

        They want a caring relationship with you. Help create that.

  9. For the teenage relative question: do they have any spending money? Maybe set up an allowance for doing chores around the house (which also normalizes routines and stuff like that). Also in terms of school are they behind/in the wrong cliques/in need of college prep/dreaming of joining a team or other extracurricular? Can you meet with their guidance counselor and maybe a teacher or 2? What about clothes and tech? Do they have the basics like enough underwear? It’s easy for kids with really dysfunctional lives to normalize( or hide for fear of bad outcomes) the most bizarre stuff and sometimes just non-judgmental asks like hey in need of winter boots? How are those sneakers doing?.

    Definitely get some sort of formal guardianship arrangement going and add relative to your health insurance policy if necessary or look into S CHIP programs in your state (Have they had regular medical/dental care? Are they up to date on vaccines like HPV etc)

    If they moved from a distance can you arrange skype hangouts for them and their old friends? If they’re an hour or less away maybe arrange some in-person hang out days? Do they want to go back there for church (or another local activity)

    Do they need counseling?

    Good luck, it’s great that you were able to do this for your relative.

    1. Speaking of medical, the LW and any other responsible adults in the house need a written authorization from one or more of the teen’s parent/legal guardian to consent for non-emergent medical treatment for the teen. If the teen is critically ill, they can receive treatment without parental consent – but for other issues that are miserable but not immediately life threatening (like an ear infection or a broken wrist or strep throat) the teen would be stuck waiting in pain while the LW or medical staff to reach the teen’s parent(s) to get consent.

      I had that happen when a tech at the doctor’s office forgot to write down my mom’s called-in consent when I dislocated a finger in junior high. This was pre-cell phones so I was stuck without pain medication or treatment for nearly 2 hours since my mom had called then started driving from where she was out of town to get to the hospital. She nearly had a fit when she made it and saw me pale, shaking and still with a dislocated finger – and I can’t say I blame her.

      Because of that, I always send a time-limited one with my toddler son when he’s staying with grandparents. I trust their judgement if they can’t get a hold of either of us – and I would prefer he have access to treatment and pain meds.

  10. Q9 about the dishwasher: I am firmly of the opinion that whoever’s home the dishwasher is in forever has the final say on how that dishwasher is loaded. So much depends on the dishwasher itself and the dishes being put in it. I’ve seen dishwashers where if you put the utensils in upside-down they don’t get fully cleaned and dishwashers where if you put the utensils in right-side-up they fall through the rack and get stuck. The person who lives with the dishwasher will know which way bowls have to be loaded so that the water actually gets the whole inside and how strictly they have to follow the “top rack only” markings on dishes, and so on.

    If guests are helping you load your dishwasher, I think it’s perfectly polite and reasonable to say “can you put the silverware in this direction? thanks” or some other little request. If you (or your dishwasher) are picky with a long list of specifications, then your options are either “oh don’t worry about the dishes – I’ll take care of it later” or to not say anything and rearrange the dishes after the guests leave.

    If you are a guest in someone else’s house, trust that the host knows their kitchen best.

    1. I also think that given the choice between saying “Our dishwasher is fussy, I got it!” vs. standing over a guest to deliver instructions because there might be a “who’s right about this?” or stuff permanently-damaged sort of conflict later, I will recommend doing the dishes yourself for the rest of recorded time. Give helpful guests a different task!

      1. Sure, it’s a matter of balance. “You rinse the dishes and I’ll put them in the dishwasher” is also a good one for guests who want to help.

        1. This. I’ve lived in a place where not rinsing meant rewashing. Unfortunately I had housemates who hated rinsing….6am breakfast dishes could be an ugly way to start the day.
          (I didn’t live there long.)

      2. Not so much about dishwashers, but with other jobs (putting leftovers away, etc.), I’ve figured out which tasks I’m willing to delegate and which ones I want to do myself. If it’s a job acceptable for delegation, I’ll give the minimal amt of instruction needed (“Containers for leftovers are in that drawer right there,” and then TAKE A DIFFERENT JOB in a separate space (doesn’t have to be a long ways away; across the kitchen is fine). If I hang out with them I tend to jump in and “help”; being out of arm’s reach makes it easier to let the helpful guest do things the way they’re gonna do them (and as long as all perishables are in the fridge and we can still close the door by the end, it’s a win).

      3. “Give helpful guests a different task!”

        Yes! And be proactive–it’s so much worse to correct people than it is to directly tell them, “Please leave the dishwasher for me to load.”

        Be “bossy”–give directions, even if those are to say, “Please don’t do that.” You are no longer “the host who must cater to guests” once you get into the kitchen; you are now “the workflow organizer.” Step up, and organize!

    2. I’m with the Captain on this. If it matters to you so much, a few minutes’ convenience of having others load (while you hover over?) isn’t worth it. Save everyone the grief and just do it yourself. I say this as someone who falls squarely into the “needing to load the dishwasher herself because she cares deeply about silverware orientation” category.

      1. I don’t entirely disagree with the Captain, I just think there’s a little wiggle room around “never let guests load your dishwasher if you’re not comfortable letting them do it how they want”. It’s not impolite to correct guests or overbearing to offer simple instructions.

        I don’t think it’s out of line to say to guests who offer to load the dishwasher, “Thanks, just make sure you put the forks in tines up” and then leave them to it while you go clean something else. Or if the two of you are loading the dishwasher together, I don’t think it’s wrong for the host to quietly rearrange a dish or two here or there. But I do agree that if there’s a long list of instructions or if you’re so picky you’d end up just hovering over the guest constantly correcting them while they load the dishes, then you really shouldn’t be letting other people load your dishwasher.

        But also for me, I wouldn’t take true guests up on their offer to help with the dishes. I’d only let someone help me with the dishes if we were reasonably close friends or in a situation where they’re a houseguest (i.e., staying for more than one meal).

  11. For Q14: Ani DiFranco’s album “Dilate” is a classic in this vein. I also love Fiona Apple’s “When The Pawn…”, Shawn Colvin’s “A Few Small Repairs”, Sleater-Kinney’s self-titled album, and I think Tracey Thorn’s “Love And Its Opposite” might fit the bill too? Depending on what genres your taste runs to, I think. (I realized in thinking about this question that this is a type of music very dear to me. And PS, Tori Amos is of course an excellent suggestion. 🙂

  12. About the aunt and uncle… take the long view. They are helping you when you are young and vulnerable. Help them as they grow older and vulnerable. Be “our lovely niece/nephew who often visits/writes/sends a postcard from their adventures and always remembers our birthdays”. Do this forever. It will not take a lot of effort, especially as you will be buoyed up by the gratitude you feel now.

    1. Yes, this!

      I have an aunt who lives almost as far away from me as it is possible to live and still both be in the United States, but she has done some truly awesome things for me that she totally did not have to do but she did because she thought it was the right thing to do. I call her on her birthday, her husband’s/my uncle’s birthday, their wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes Mother’s Day (sometimes I forget that last one), and she really seems to enjoy that I take the time to remember the occasions and call. (I also call if there is some sort of natural disaster in her area, to make sure she and my uncle and my cousins are safe.)

      Little things like that add up, in a lot of people’s estimation. Just the consideration of calling and chatting for a while from time to time means a lot, especially to aging relatives who’ve stuck their necks out for you (for whatever definition that means in any given situation).

      1. Thank y’all for these suggestions! I will definitely make note to call/text on special days and since I do live close, just going over to spend time with them. It’s nice to hear what others have done/what people appreciate.

        1. Also, don’t discount actual postal mail. I don’t manage to get Christmas/winter holiday cards out but about every three years (I tend not to think about it until it’s too late), but that aunt and uncle are always on the list when I do get cards in the mail. And even if your aunt and uncle are younger than mine are (my aunt and uncle are slightly older than the Baby Boom generation), it can still be a pleasant surprise to get something in the actual physical mailbox that isn’t a bill or junk mail. 😀

        2. Agreed! Emotional Labour is what you can do in thanks.
          Also if you want to, making them dinner is a way to eliminate any question of a check to be picked up…”Come on over! I’m making my family lasagne!” or whatnot

    2. For Q4, think about ways to pay it forward!
      – long term, resolve that if you’re ever in a position to help a friend or relative as they’ve helped you, you’ll do it enthusiastically. Maybe tell them this in one of your thank you notes if it feels appropriate?
      – short term, can you find a way that fits your time/energy budget to volunteer or donate money to help people in your community? A donation in their name (only what’s truly comfortable for you to give!) or telling them about how their generosity inspired your volunteer work could be really meaningful.

    3. especially aunts without kids! I have one of those, and my mothers always pointed out to me: Your aunt doesn’t have a husband, or kids of her own, or in-laws who will call her on holidays, etc. YOU ARE IT for her!!

      I’m a little worried about how we’ll support her when she ages, because we are all so scattered, but we will have to do it.

  13. #15 – I could very easily be the inexperienced middle-school level kissing partner in this question. I’m in my early 30s and have just not run into very many opportunities to practice kissing so far in my life. If I ever did find myself in a kissing situation again, it would be very tempting to just make it up and hope I got it right. So I, personally, would find it invaluable to receive gentle feedback on how my kissing was being received and/or instructions on how to make it more enjoyable for the other person. Awkward information to ask for, but very helpful to receive!!

    1. Yup. I have also been the inexperienced partner here, and I really appreciate getting feedback and advice about this stuff. I particularly like it when the feedback is:

      * EXTREMELY SPECIFIC. Since I don’t really know what I’m doing, vague or indirect feedback is not useful; it just confirms my suspicion that I’m doing something wrong but doesn’t tell me how to fix it. It’s much better to point out a specific, fixable thing even if it doesn’t solve all your kissing problems at once.

      * MATTER-OF-FACT. If you act like what you’re saying is totally normal and no big deal, that helps it feel like no big deal to me too. Just say it and go right back to what you were doing.

      * CONSISTENT. When your partner regularly does a bad kissing thing, it’s tempting to only point it out occasionally and just tolerate it the rest of the time. That makes it much harder for them to learn, though! When I get inconsistent feedback, I spend a lot of time worrying that maybe I’m still doing the bad thing but my partner is just being too polite to mention it. It feels way better to get consistent feedback every time I do the thing, and then I can pretty quickly figure out what I’m doing wrong and stop doing it.

      * IMMEDIATE. Of course, sometimes it’s just not a good time to stop and give feedback. Whenever you can, though, immediate feedback is definitely the easiest to learn from. It’s automatically super specific (you’re talking about the exact thing I’m doing right now), and it also lets you correct it right away if I try something else and it’s not right either.

      Best of luck with your great guy, and hopefully in time he will become a great kisser too 🙂

      1. These are all good suggestions! One thing I’d like to add–I’ve found it helpful to frame the suggestions less as “you are an objectively terrible kisser” and more as “This is how I like to be kissed.” Bodies are different, people are different, and other partners might love a style of kissing that I find off-putting or uncomfortable! Emphasizing “this is what feels good TO ME” is accurate, and also can soften the blow instead of making your partner feel that they are just inherently awful at kissing/making out/etc.

        To be clear, when I say “soften the blow,” I mean it in a “being kind to the feelings of the person you care about” sort of way–definitely NOT in a “you should manage your partner’s emotions so that they do not feel even the slightest whiff of discomfort, ever” sort of way. If you provide feedback in a constructive and considerate way and your partner gets angry with you for having preferences, or acts like your request to use more tongue/less tongue is an unforgivable affront, then you have much bigger problems than incompatible kissing styles.

    2. For anyone reading who might be in a similar situation of little experience with partnered sex, as someone who’s been on the LW’s side of this, I will also suggest that it may help the more experienced partner to know before/as sexytimes start that the partner who has little experience with partnered sex both has little experience with partnered sex AND would appreciate feedback. And it may help to be relatively explicit – “I don’t have much experience kissing people, and I’d really appreciate any suggestions you have about how you like to be kissed,” – rather than euphemistic.

      The last person with very little partnered experience with whom I did sexy things told me that she didn’t have much experience with “romantic relationships”, which clued me in a little bit, but I didn’t really make the connection until she started talking more about that afterwards that she had very little experience with partnered sexual activity at all, since I was coming from a perspective where casual sexual relationships that aren’t necessarily romantic are fairly common (one-night stands, repeat hookups, friends with benefits, etc. – though I personally have never really been all that into sex with strangers). I thought she was mostly worried about her lack of experience with norms and common expectations around the social dynamics of romantic relationships (which was partly true), and I approached sexytimes giving and soliciting SOME explicit verbal feedback, but also assuming she was doing what she was because that’s what she definitely enjoyed and trying to cue off of that, rather than asking a lot more questions about what was and wasn’t working for her and giving her more feedback about what I enjoy most.

      Granted, I know lots of people are worried about rejection or ridicule for a lack of experience – at any age, but since limited experience is less common as one gets older, people may worry more, though I think people in general also tend to relax a bit more about sex as they get older, too – so it can be extra scary for the person lacking experience to speak up, especially since someone without experience by definition hasn’t had many opportunities to have sexytimes with someone with whom there is mutual attraction, raising the opportunity cost of potential rejection. That said, I think it’s pretty much always to one’s advantage to disclose, becasue a partner who isn’t down for being considerate of a partner with little experience isn’t a good option as a sex partner for someone with little experience (as pretty much always, rejection is a gift in disguise), and may just generally be a jerk.

      For people in the LW’s position, I second the recommendation to frame one’s preferences as personal (both becasue they are and because it can be perceived as kinder than framing them as an objective assessment in which the person is found lacking) and to ask lots of questions about what is or isn’t working. The person may not be experienced enough to know what specifically ze likes, but ze can probably tell you if what’s happening RIGHT NOW feels good, bad, neutral; if ze likes it more or less than the last thing you were doing; if there’s something ze feels really drawn to trying; etc.

      1. Blerg, that awkwardly phrased sentence reads better as, “but I didn’t really make the connection that she had very little experience with partnered sexual activity at all until she started talking more about that afterwards”.

  14. I have been on the other side of Q4 and I can tell you A+++ watching the cat while I am out of town is AMAZING and THANK YOU SO MUCH. Really. The Person I am doing The Things for watches my cat sometimes and I get pictures texted to me! Captain’s other suggestions are great as well.

    1. Good to know, thanks! I do send them adorable kitty videos when I’m house/cat sitting for them. Will remember to keep doing so 🙂

      1. I have got SO MUCH positive feedback when I am taking care of someone else’s pet(s) and send them pics and videos and anecdotes throughout the care-giving. If it’s one night, I usually won’t bother unless the pet does something absolutely adorable. But for a week? Regular things to show that their pet is OK 🙂

        1. Same here. I try to send videos and pics of them being adorable whenever possible, it’s very reassuring to the owners. I got one darling snap of the two little dogs I was caring for curled up in the same chair, the long-furred one’s ears were hanging off the chair like a fluffy drape and it was the cutest thing ever. Her owners love that snap.

    2. Agreed! My daughter watches our house and pets when we are out of town and it is such a relief to be able to relax on vacation and know that my critters are taken care of by someone that I trust. She is just starting out too and feels bad about being on the receiving end of parental help, but that is what family elders do when they can! Her dad and I lived through some tight times when we were first starting out, and times are even tougher now in some ways than they were then. If we can take some of that burden away from the younger generation, be it our daughter or our nieces and nephews, we are happy to do so.

      1. Yeah, definitely do not underestimate the value of a petsitter you really trust. If the pet is easy it may not feel like a difficult job, and it may not BE a difficult job, but even when it’s not difficult exactly, it can be hard to find someone you 100% trust to be reliable, to follow your directions about your pet, to treat them how you want, and to be the point person if there was a vet emergency.

        1. Plus professional petsitting is quite expensive. Justifiably so for the reasons above, but it really adds up so a personal friend you really trust can actually be saving you not insignificant money.

  15. Q13: [spoiler alert] so far I see mostly healthy relationships on Sense8 (admittedly I only just begun watching it, but EVERYTHING about Nomi and Amanita makes me want to be their best friend or maybe third partner); Crazy Ex Girlfriend shows a few, too (never with the main character, but for instance I like seeing Paula and her husband), on HIMYM (which is terrible on so many levels but I still loved it for years) you have Marshall and Lily who basically work as a team, Rapunzel is a cartoon but the romance is believable, and for films I … Cannot believe I’ve been thinking for 10 minutes and still got nothing. -.-“

    1. Nomi and Amanita are relationship goals. And Lito and Hernando are damned adorable together.

      (SPOILER) Will and Riley are a pretty good couple too.

    2. I do love Marshall and Lily a whole darn lot, but their relationship often struck me as kind of codependent. They even joke at their wedding that they couldn’t be apart for even one night, which is presented as cute and romantic, but I wouldn’t necessarily see that as healthy in a real life relationship. 🙂

      1. I do like to think they had a healthy relationship and just parts were exaggerated in ted’s re-telling of the story. A bit like with Barneys character as well … considering the entire show ended up being about ted convincing his kids he should hook up with his best mates ex wife.

  16. Q4: I’m arriving at the time in my life where I’m stable enough to be able to be generous to younger friends and relatives, so here’s some experience from that side of things:

    I agree with Elaine: Photos are great! Updates on good news in your life are also great.

    If I gave you money, and you used it to do something cool (like buy yourself a houseplant or go see a concert), it would be nice (though not required) to tell me about it or send a photo.

    If there was someone in my LinkedIn network that I could connect you with, or some other way I could use my larger network / longer local familiarity / greater work experience to help you out, it would make me happy to do that.

    I would (at least I hope I would) be very hesitant to give you advice, for fear of feeling like I was purchasing your compliance, so if you wanted advice you would have to ask for it.

    If you were housesitting for me and I were out of town for a long time, it might be cool if you made sure there was milk and coffee in the house when I came back.

    1. Yes! Never underestimate the value of having a tidy, welcoming house to come home to after a trip. It extends the trip a little, lets you relax, and generally makes life easy. If I came home to a vacuumed floor, fresh towels, and fresh milk and coffee (pre-setting the coffee pot would get major bonus points), I would be in heaven.

      1. I am taking notes on all these suggestions! This is great to hear about what people appreciate on the other side of things. My aunt used to work in the same job area that I currently work in, before she retired to volunteer at an animal shelter, and she’s let me know I can always come to her with questions for advice, so I’ll be sure to take her up on that!

  17. It’s a male singer, but I love Damien Rice for moodiness, and you can sing “Rootless Tree” very loudly to make yourself feel better.

    1. Also a male singer, but Frank Turner’s music tends very much towards the theme of songs for people who are fighting through the shit. Some of them are breakup songs, but there’s also a more general “you’re awesome and you’ll be okay” vibe. I especially like “Peggy Sang the Blues”, “Get Better”, and “Glorious You”.

  18. Q13: I spend entirely too much time thinking about this! My absolute favorite romances are Snow White with the Red Hair (they both have jobs and genuinely like each other and inspire each other to be better/ stronger/ more compassionate people! *sparkles for days*) and Only Lovers Left Alive (much moody, very support, such whimsy + Gothic gloom and splendor, and I deeply appreciate that none of the drama in the movie is rooted in their relationship). I also like Spice and Wolf (lots of snarky dialog) and Karen Chance’s Dorina Basarab series (I hesitate to call this one healthy relationship modeling, but I like that the romantic leads are evenly matched in terms of power and ability, and they are very obviously equally into each other.)

  19. Q9: As a guest, I usually ask at the moment I offer to help if there are strong preferences for dishwasher-loading, or things that should *not* be put in the dishwasher. It’s easy enough to ask and accommodate weird preferences, and important to not accidentally destroy beloved salad bowls (an error my aunt made that my mom is still kind of mad about).

    1. TRYING not to mourn my beautiful Solingen-steel knife set, which has never been the same since helpful teenager was helpful…

    2. Oh, same here, but I still think if the host is extremely picky about dishwasher loading, that is a great job for the host to do!

      1. Guests need to ask.

        I once told my guests I’d clean up. I stated politely, but firmly “please just leave everything.”

        One didn’t listen. She loaded and run the dishwasher when I wasn’t looking. She wanted the credit of being “helpful”.

        She ruined the dishes my mother in laws grandmother brought from Japan. Dishes that were the only family heirloom that survived The internment camps.

        Dishes that hadn’t even been used at the party. Somehow someone spilled something on them. That guest had helpfully sat them by the sink.

        Part of being helpful as a guest is opening ones mouth and asking what in can do. If the answer is nothing, one should accept it.

        One shouldn’t go into someone else’s kitchen and just start cleaning. That may be acceptable in mainstream white middle class US culture. It’s deeply offensive to many others.

        1. I agree with you 100%! Your house, your dishes, your dishwasher, you do the dishes.
          Guests shouldn’t steamroll hosts!

        2. wow. 😦

          This is reminding me that I have a helpful-friend who, before I had a dishwasher, did some handwashing on his own initiative. Thankfully that just resulted in him drying them with a dirty cloth and having to re-rinse them. I’ll have to remember to, like, tape up the dishwasher or something if I host another party. Just in case. 😉

        3. I always thought this idea was weird and I’m from a white middle class family. The only people I have ever seen help clean up were close relatives and friends. It was actually considered rude to have a guest you did not know well come into your kitchen and help clean. As a matter of fact, the only time in all my years of holiday parties, milestone dinners, nice home dinners with guests etc, I cannot recall one time anyone other than a super close relative/friend helped clean. And this was only done when most of the lesser close guests have left. Well I can one time, but that woman *thought* she was closer to people than she actually was and it was awkward! See, if you really think about it, it is quite an intimate thing. And now that I think about it, I have only ever seen this on T.V… Which is funny, cuz in my mind, it seems so normal, but when I actually think about, I have never seen it done.

          1. Yeah, I have never seen it either. If it’s just one or two close friends over, then sometimes, but a party or BBQ? No, it seems invasive. Asking where you should put the dirty dishes (leave them where they are, or bring them into kitchen?) maybe, but anything more actually seems like overstepping by the guest.

  20. For LW11: Make sure that you get your teenager some photo ID, and that you have all the necessary documents to do so.

    When my 17 year old moved in with me, they brought all the ID they had with them… and it amounted to their social security card, some old student IDs, and the birth certificate their mom was given at the hospital, which as it turns out is not actually a legal document and can’t be used for anything. Because kid had no photo ID, they couldn’t order a birth certificate. Which they needed in order to get photo ID.

    We eventually ended up reaching out to their mom, who was able to order the birth certificate because she had a drivers license, and we had to do a bunch of other shenanigans to get something with their photo that the DMV would accept (fun fact: in Washington State, the DMV will accept a school yearbook as proof of identification.) It was a giant stressful pain in the ass, and the process gave me a new insight into precisely how full of shit people who support voter ID laws are, but in the end, kid had photo ID, which I know saved them headaches down the line.

    1. > and the process gave me a new insight into precisely how full of shit people who support voter ID laws are,

      OMG yes. My kid did a legal name change for gender reasons, which created a great cascade of passport –> drivers license –> birth certificate –> social security card –> passport –> rinse –> repeat, and I came to exactly the same conclusion.

      1. Oh, yeah. I.D. withholding is a common form of abuse escape-prevention that everyone forgets about. The good news: you can sue the state to give you an I.D., especially if there is technical homelessness (spare room/ couch surfing) involved. The bad news is that it’s a GIANT pain in the head.

    2. Also, depending on what the Reasons are for why teenager is now living with you, she may have some issues around hoarding food. The advice I received when dealing with it with my kid was not to try to end the hoarding; instead, facilitate ways for your kid to hoard food that don’t pose a health hazard until they feel safe enough to stop on their own.

      I knew that my kid came from a food-insecure household, so I asked them outright if they would feel safer with a stash of food in their room. We got them a plastic tub that bugs and rodents wouldn’t be able to get into, and bought a bunch of non-perishable snacks specifically for them to hoard. The extras were kept in the kitchen, where they could grab more whenever they needed. I was also very particular about keeping lots of food in the house for the first few months, especially towards the end of the month. (Kid had come from a home that relied on SNAP, so they would do one big grocery run at the beginning of the month when the funds came through, and by the last week of the month, there was basically nothing left in the house. So they were used to a particular cycle, and would start getting antsy around food towards the end of the month.) It took very little time for my kid to break their hoarding habit; only a couple of months after moving in with me, they just stopped bothering to refill their container, and took their snacks directly from the kitchen when they were hungry.

      Food hoarding can be a really difficult topic for kids to talk about; I know my kid had a lot of shame around it. I reminded them that it was a reasonable adaptation to their previous environment, and that eventually, they would get used to this new environment where food was plentiful, and would stop feeling the urge to hoard.

      1. You are awesome. Literally. I am in awe. You combined psychological insight, respectful direct communication, practicality, and grace in a way that is rare.

        Also, you should write this up (and any other such advice–I’m sure you have more to offer) and give it to the agency that places foster kids, to be passed on to new foster parents.

      2. Wow. You are wonderful. Tears in my eyes.

        I bet that in addition to helping with the hoarding, by addressing the issue directly with understanding and compassion you helped them feel more comfortable opening up about other “shameful” survival tactics or mental health issues.

        You’re a superstar.

    3. Yes! I was going to suggest making sure they have their own passport AND checking/savings accounts, in addition to copies of birth certificate and vaccinations. Even if they’re young, it can help provide a feeling of independence and security to know they have someplace to put money that Other People can’t reach. These can go with them if they have to move on. Someone below mentions freezing their credit–also an excellent idea.

    1. I love this, but how can there be a playlist of songs about being fed up without Tori Amos?

      1. I have never ever ever been a fan of Amos’s music and I have never lacked for rageful women to listen to and love.

        1. SAME.

          But for me, coming out of the punk & underground scene where there was no shortage of rageful women screaming out their anger through song, meant that artists like Tori Amos & Fiona Apple just came across to me as “angry women lite” or “starter angry women for the masses” in comparison (though I do enjoy Apple where I can’t STAND Amos & think she is enormously overrated.)
          I was used to CRASS’s Penis Envy album, The Bags with songs like “Babylonian Gorgon”, and 7 Year Bitch’s in your face music like “Dead Men Don’t Rape”, and many other artists that were openly & defiantly feminist, and when you read the lyrics to some of THOSE songs, “I wanna smash the faces of those beautiful boys” pales in comparison.
          And I *STILL* can’t see No Doubt’s “I’m just a girl” as anything more than the pathetic lamentations of a woman who can *see* the inequality in this world but has decided she’s too helpless to do anything to fight against it, which is about as far from an angry woman feminist rant as you can possibly get without actually openly supporting the patriarchy.
          I’d suggest those looking for angry women music look into artists & bands like the aforementioned Bags, Crass (esp Penis Envy), and 7 Year Bitch, but also:
          Exene Cervenka/X
          The Slits
          Siouxsie Sioux/Siouxsie & the Banshees/the Creatures
          Patti Smith
          Bikini Kill/Le Tigre/Julie Ruin
          The Breeders
          Pussy Riot
          Debby Harry/Blondie
          Lydia Lunch
          Poly Styrene/X Ray Spex
          Hole/Courtney Love
          The Need
          Youth Code
          PJ Harvey
          Beth Ditto
          Rubella Ballet
          Penelope Houston/the Avengers
          Mia Zapata/the Gits
          Joan Jett
          Kim Shattuck/the Muffs

          And so many, many more that if I was feeling better I’d be able to pull out of my foggy brain.

          *This band name always makes me LOL because I used to live in that area and drove on this road many times.

  21. Q1: I was in that situation. LDR with no end in sight and starting to feel isolated. I considered asking my bf if he’d be interested in an open relationship, so I could date people locally, but I ultimately decided that that’s not what I wanted. So I broke up with him and dated a bunch of local people. And none of them were as good as he was. He had a similar experience, and we eventually found our way back to each other, did the long distance thing for a bit, and then I made it a priority to move closer to him. And now we’re married with a kid.

    There are a million ways this can work out. You don’t have to break up, and if you decide to break up you don’t have to cut off all contact forever.

  22. Oh my gosh yes!!! A big second on that scene…it’s probably my favorite out the whole series….Aldis Hodge is one those delightful people who I look at and think..”If I were 20 years younger and single.”. He’s absolutely fantastic!!!!

    1. Oops… sorry for the double post. This was supposed to be a response to Aebhel. Goofy phone!

  23. Q11 My husband is a youth pastor and while we’ve never had a student living with us, he serves as kind of a surrogate dad to a number of students who don’t have their “real” dad or a step-dad in their lives. One thing that has been important to them is when he shows up to their events–school plays or concerts, sporting events, etc. For the LW I’d take it a step further and encourage your teen to get involved in something, making sure she knows you’ll foot the bill for the costs–debate club, a sport, school choir, whatever she may be interested in doing. She may be too shy to ask if she can join something, so take the initiative and offer.

    Also, make sure she has the tools she needs to get her homework done–computer time, printing, poster board and markers, required reading books for English class, etc. Again, if she’s shy she may not ask. You might also work with the school to get on the parent email list so you know what’s going on; my own kids’ school regularly sends out emails asking for volunteers for concession stands, cookies for the choir concert, teacher gifts, etc.

    And on behalf of all the sweet students I’ve known who have trouble with their parents for Reasons, THANK YOU.

  24. For Q12- I expect the Captain’s advice is all you’ll need. It sounds like fun! Good luck!

    BUT – and I admit I am totally projecting my own experience onto you – if the kissing doesn’t improve, or for any other major sexual incompatibility, really, really give some serious thought to how important that sexual issue is to you, before committing to the relationship. Do not agree to a lifelong monogamous partnership with a person who can’t or won’t kiss you ‘right’ – unless you are sure you’re absolutely OK with never being kissed ‘right’ ever again, in your whole life. And remember, as cool and awesome as this person is, they are NOT your only chance at love, and friendship is NOT a consolation prize for when romance doesn’t work out, friendship is an intrinsic good and worth pursuing for its own sake.

    1. Seconding this. I stayed in a relationship for years trying to tell myself, “it’s just kissing/sex aren’t there other awesome things that make me happy about this person and it shouldn’t matter?

      It mattered. A lot. We broke up and it was exceedingly painful. I often wish I had just accepted our incompatibility a few weeks in and saved myself years of angst.

      BUTTTTTTT your person might be an amazing learner!!! That happens too. If two people are good communicators and are willing to open up and have fun and give to one another, there is a good chance of success on the kissing side of things.

      I totally feel you. Good kissing for me is a fundamental need for sexual compatibility and my literal happiness. Good luck!!! May he learn well, the young grasshopper. 😀

    2. I need to second this very heavily – I did marry a man who didn’t kiss the way I wanted to kiss and by the end, my heart was a little ball of tears and rage whenever I saw anyone kissing that way, whether in public or on the TV. It was very, very sad.

      1. Thank you both flying piglet and thecheapshot for sharing that – I have felt like I’m the worst and most selfish – and only – person to leave a long term relationship with a wonderful man, for sexual incompatibility reasons, and it’s good to know I’m not the only one afterall.

        1. A good friend of mine just left one for this exact reason. That kind of compatibility is so important and you won’t be the first or last to decide you need it and to take steps to make room for it in your life. Jedi hugs if you want them.

        2. I’m in the throes of deciding whether or not to do the same, with a similarly wonderful man who I’ve been with for 6 years. It’s so hard, because in no way have I fallen out of love with him. I think my “wise inner self” knows the truth of the situation, but god, it sucks. Kudos to you for doing what’s right for you, and thanks for sharing a bit of your experience to make the rest of us feel less alone.

  25. Q3: Unfortunately, I agree with the Captain’s advice. I would focus on controlling my experience of it (lots of hand washing / sanitizing shared surfaces?) but at this point you just don’t have a lot of chits and it would appear quite odd to your boss if this is was you chose to cash them all in for – versus, you know, more pay for yourself or a promotion or making you permanent. Your priorities will seem quite weird.

  26. Q6, I feel the same as you about these sorts of comments. My old roommate used to do this and I haaaated it. I read something somewhere (maybe here) about politeness not being unnecessary just because you’re close with someone–that was an eye opener for me. My current roomie and I are very “could you please” and “would you like” and I love it. Find your conversational politeness comfort level! Some people’s may be different–that doesn’t mean you can’t ask them to be politer to you!

    The Captain has good advice for addressing this outright. In a situation where you can’t or don’t want to (e.g., in a conversation with someone you don’t talk to often, or with someone where you don’t want to spend capital addressing this), it helped me to reframe the tone of the comments: I tell myself that the person is so excited they’ve forgotten pleasantries, or that this is just how that person talks and they don’t mean it as an instruction–maybe their default politeness level is way lower than mine. This helps me step back and be less annoyed by it in situations where I can’t change it.

    1. With the two specific examples given, I was imagining someone trying to be jocular or flip. And it’s coming across bossy.

      There is of course a whole ton of context and examples that aren’t part of the letter. But I wondered if considering whether a different framing might be accurate (or, if not accurate, a helpful fiction).

  27. A friend of mine was just asking for suggestions on a movie where all the men on earth die off. All I could think of was Last Man on Earth, which is entirely based on the one dude and proving dudes aren’t really that bad after all, so not that helpful to her. I was kinda wishing they would remake it without him, I feel like that would be very soothing right now. It would make a good series – where you watch all the struggles of how women would cope from the beginning, how society would have to adjust? *sigh* But there is some nice background stuff in the original about how all the woman rallied and how much more peace there was since it happened. So a little soothing.

    1. “Girltrash: all night long!” is a favourite of mine, I promise there’s like, ONE guy and you only see him for 5-10 minutes tops. I don’t think he says anything, either.

    2. It’s actually a comic book that has its moments, but… I feel that it’s telling that there’s only one guy left on earth and, IIRC, the series comes perilously close to failing the Bechdel test.

      1. Huh. How do the logistics of that even… you know what, I don’t want to know. If this show can’t easily pass the Bechdel test with those demographics, it doesn’t deserve my brainspace.

      2. Y: The Last Man?
        There are lesbian pirates who make up for a lot but in general it is the most female-heavy anti-feminist comic I’ve ever read. It’s not terrible, but it’s deeply, deeply problematic.

        1. An ex roommate of mine loaned me the first two or three issues…it started out interesting, then I raised my eyebrows when it got to the motorcycle gangs…sorry to find out it just continues in that vein.

        2. And I just now realized, that what bothered me was the framing of the violent awful women as FEMINISTS, not that it showed women who were violent and awful. Because I can fully see a future post apocalyptic society with violent female gangs…women aren’t any less capable of violence & hatred than men are, and that might even be a plus in a lawless society. And I suppose *some* of those women would identify as feminists…but even now, there are plenty of abusive, violent, or criminal women who DON’T identify as such, and never would, so why would a future female gang necessarily feel the need to do so?

      3. A quick google search shows several movies (including the 1964 Vincent Price film based on the book I am Legend) and a TV series titled the Last Man on Earth as well as the comic.
        I’ve only seen the Vincent Price film (and it’s been YEARS) so I can’t comment on the rest.

        1. We’re talking about a very different series with a really similar name, Ms. M— . The premise is that everyone on earth with an XY chromosome pair on earth has died suddenly and mysteriously. The book focuses on the apparent lone exception. Sorry to fansplain.

          1. Oh, wait, you talked about the series above! I am definitely fansplaining and I wish I could delete! Sorry!

    3. If you’re open to a webcomic / graphic novel, I HIGHLY suggest Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal.

    4. Not a series but a book “The Power” by Naomi Alderman. “Teenage girls suddenly have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.”

      It was violent and disturbing as hell but also deadly satisfying. I for sure fantasised about living in that world.

      1. Any recommendation of this book needs to come with the caveat that it includes graphic depictions of multiple rapes and is cover-to-cover erasure of trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people. (Also I found the ending/framing device utterly dissatisfying. I don’t want a world like that. I want a world without oppression at all.)

    5. On A Sunbeam! by Tillie Walden. It’s a webcomic and graphic novel about an all-woman (plus one non-binary person) crew in a space-adventure universe. Instead of being, like, I dunno, bounty hunters or chosen ones, the job of the ship is to go to abandoned neighborhoods and rare ecosystems and evaluate them to see if they can be saved / protected. So, basically they rarely encounter people when they leave the ship. Every person they encounter is a woman or an alien of unknown gender. The only male being they encounter is the cat.

      The men didn’t die off, they just coincidentally never happen to encounter any, which I think is hilarious since the inverse happens all the time in old-school space adventure shows. Heck, even in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, every time they land they never meet another woman, and after Trillian bails nobody notices that there seem to be no women anywhere.

      1. That is awesome. I LOVE that there is no particular reason or plot explanation given for almost everyone in the universe just happening to be female.

        1. I do too! ❤ I think part of the issue I personally have with a lot of stories where, like, all men are dead, or women overthrow men, is that the story is still about friggin' men! It's about male power and male violence, or the role men played in the society that is now collapsing since they've died. And Walden figured out how to dodge all that by just being like, "I dunno, men probably exist somewhere; this story just isn't about them."

          Not that I don't appreciate other kinds of stories. Just, On a Sunbeam was so amazingly refreshing.

          1. It was something that started to bug me about children’s movies when I was around ten. Why does no one ever _explain_ why 90% of people/animals/toys/ in the whole community are male?

            Was there a plague that wiped out all the females of the species? If so, why aren’t they more concerned or traumatised? Does this children’s fantasy world have such a repressive political structure that female e.g. woodland animals/space aliens/etc aren’t even allowed to be seen in public? Like, what’s the story? It’s clearly an immense story!

            As a ten year old girl watching it, not having it explained was deeply disturbing.

            So I think it would be kind of awesome to see the same thing done the other way around and see if anyone notices…

          2. OMG thank you! I am really bugged by those kinds of plots as well, and I haven’t quite been able to articulate why, but you have definitely put your finger on one of the things that bothers me!
            One of the others is, I think, the fact that I’ve been a feminist for over 40 years striving for all people to be EQUAL, not for “women to win”. I want a society where gender is not an issue- where gender binaries have disappeared, and gender essentialism is non-existent…not one where both are still hale & hearty but reversed, with a women being the oppressors with all the power instead. I wouldn’t like that world any better than the one we live in- I want a world with NO oppressors!
            I’ve read one VERY good piece of apocalyptic short fiction along the “women take over” lines, and if was great because it showed just how fucked up and horrific a world like that could really be. Because for sure, women have just as much of a capacity for hatred, violence, and oppression as men; our current society and culture may have blinded us to that because of how we have trained each gender to behave for so many centuries, but in a more equal world I am absolutely certain that the rates of violence and crime would be pretty balanced between genders (all genders), though hopefully much reduced overall. Which some might see as a dubious achievement for feminism & equality, but I see as being realistic, as you have to accept the negative effects of progress along with the positive. And envisioning a female run society as some kind of peaceful utopia is just more of the garden variety gender essentialism about how women are the ‘naturally’ the more caring, more nuturing, less violent ones.

          3. TO_On – out of nesting- I have to admit that it took me s veeerrrry long time to realize how few women were in the kind of movies & literature I loved with a passion ever since the original Star Wars came out when I was 10 and it became my life’s dream to become an X-wing pilot for the Rebellion, but in my case, it’s because my- for lack of a better term- social gender was and is smack dab in the middle of what our society has decided are the appropriate expressions for ‘men’ and ‘women’. I grew up either absorbing the cultural messages that felt right for me, and rejecting the ones that didn’t, regardless of which gender those cultural messages were aimed at (I actually had to rid myself of more if the toxic ideas society teaches MEN than of those it teaches women when I became old enough to be able to recognize them in myself.)
            Soooo…male protagonists in books & movies? All-male characters? Male heroes vs female background characters? Why, I never noticed, because I was too busy seamlessly identifying with all the male characters to actually notice that female characters were weak or didn’t exist. I *always* noticed a good, strong female character when they WERE there, and rejoiced in it, or got annoyed at stereotypical, weak, damsel in distress, or otherwise poorly written ones, but otherwise it went unnoticed because I could do easily identify with good characters of either/any gender. The reverse was also true- I didn’t notice when books/movies lacked male protagonists or strong male characters either, but of course that didn’t come up nearly as often.
            And even then I was a gifted, intelligent, extraordinarily well read child who knew about feminism and identified as such, and I still didn’t notice until it was effing *pointed out to me*. :facepalm:

  28. #13: Jane the Virgin!! The characters deal with really tough interpersonal and ideological problems, but communicate with care and love. And it doesn’t always work out, because that’s life! It’s just so good.

    1. Yes!! Jane the Virgin is such a wonderful show with incredibly healthy relationships of all kinds (romantic, mother/daughter, parent/child, friendships).

      Here’s a quote from an interview with the showrunner that really sums up so much of what I love about this show:

      “But Urman is not interested in what she calls ‘the signifiers of deep, important television,’ the kind of TV where ‘you’re going to talk really slow, and there’s going to be a lot of pauses, a lot of men. And they’re going to get really upset a lot.’ On Jane, silliness can be a demonstration of intelligence rather than a negation of it, and the proud ownership of telenovela tropes is a way to claim the importance of women’s stories.” (Read more here: It’s a great interview.)

  29. Q11: In addition to the school/medical/identification stuff, please lock down her credit. It takes some money ($10 per bureau? It’s been awhile.), but it is so worth the peace of mind. Also pull her credit report and make sure nothing’s on it.

    Please teach her about money and budgeting as well. Most schools don’t teach this anymore, and it is so, so important.

    1. There’s an excellent age-appropriate free online course on financial literacy on ALISON, which teaches so many good job-skill things as well.

      1. If she’s a very young teen (either chronologically or emotionally), I suggest “Not Your Parents’ Money Book” by Jean Chatzky. Otherwise, obtain and read “How to Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not)” by Beth Kobliner.

        Frugal tip: Look for them in your library. If they aren’t there, ask for an inter-library loan — or that the library just buy them, on the theory that you aren’t the only parents looking for this kind of info.

        And may I add my voice to the general chorus: You are a warm and compassionate person and you are quite literally changing this young person’s life by being there.

    2. I graduated from high school in 1985, and they didn’t even teach money & budget THEN. My parents seemed to think I should just KNOW it all, because they never taught it to me either, but expected me to be able to handle such things right out of high school (and they hadn’t allowed my brother or I to work while we were in school, either, except the one time my brother had a summer job & they put ALL of his paychecks directly into a savings account so he could buy a used car when he got his license.)
      I, personally, had a number of undiagnosed executive function & learning disorders (ADHD, dyspraxia, and dyscalculia, just to name a few) and had a TERRIBLE time trying to figure all of that out on my own, by which I mean it took DECADES to learn how to handle money & budgets in any sort of responsible way at all, and even at 51 I still struggle with it.
      I can NOT over emphasize how important this is to teach to kids while they are still in school. Be transparent with your finances and how you budget your own money, because this will give them a realistic idea of what it takes to survive in this world (and they won’t be like me telling my dad I was doing great because I had made $5000 the previous year when I was 20 or 21, which seemed like an ENORMOUS, unheard of amount of money to me but even at the time (late 80s) was actually *still under the poverty level*…and the way my parents lived (heavily influenced by their Depression era childhoods), I had ZERO idea that we were middle-upper middle class until like, 10 years ago or so when I did a currency conversion to see what the current equivalent price of a 1970s home PC was, and my jaw DROPPED. My dad always had at least one, and when my brother wanted a PC in middle school (‘78 or ‘79), my parents objection wasn’t that it was TOO EXPENSIVE but that the brand he wanted wasn’t good enough quality.
      It would have been INVALUABLE to me to know how much money my dad made, how they spent it, what they paid for mortgage, bills, groceries, cars, gas, insurance, and so on, to learn how to budget & balance a checkbook, to learn how to put away money for a rainy day, even when you have very little, and all the other things they knew from a lifetime of experience. It may not have solved ALL my issues with money (again, disabilities) but it would have given me an excellent head start.

  30. #11, I changed houses as a teen, from my bio mom’s house to my bio dad and stepmom’s.

    Definitely get whatever you can squared away legally.

    One specific thing I haven’t seen mentioned is college finances. Assuming you’re US people, if your guardianship of your relative remains unoffical, they’ll need their parent(s)’ financial information to qualify for any kind of federal US aid. There are no exceptions to this for “dependent students” and it is one particularly shitty way parents can screw with their children for years after the kid has become an adult.(Absent specific circumstances, students are considered dependent until their are 24.) So maintain that relationship with the parent(s).

    If there’s any way you can get them into counseling, I think that would be helpful. Even if they are happy to be living with you and seem to be doing pretty well, I don’t know, it’s always hard for children to be rejected by a parent. Or if it’s a healthy parent relationship and their living with you because of finances, that’s probably affecting their mental health as well.

    In a similar vein, difficulties may have settled in already – behavioral, school, etc. At the time that I moved I had already taken up smoking and mentally checked out of school. Sometimes I think my parents (meaning my dad and stepmom) were disappointed that they didn’t solve those issues but I only lived with them for 2 1/2 years. My mom had gotten 16 to practice being a terrible parent.

    1. There are possible exceptions to the college finance thing – they are still harder to prove than they really *should* be but there are scenarios where a student can be deemed “homeless or at risk of homelessness” under the McKinney-Vento act and found to be independent, or individual colleges can do something called a “dependency override” that allows them to, with documentation, say “this student shouldn’t have to ask their parents about financial information or a damn thing else” and treat the student as an independent student.

      If the Reasons are documentable, document them. They may help.

      Make sure you have some kind of paperwork that says you have the right to do whatever you’re doing (enrolling kid in school, etc) – my information is mostly for New York but I know McKinney-Vento is a federal law so some things should be the same. There are a lot of provisions for PreK-12 about how if a student meets the criteria for “homeless or temporarily housed” there are services they have to provide and things they can’t ask for (like, they have to enroll kid right away regardless of paperwork status, and then sort out the paperwork side later). Where I am, schools are supposed to have a McKinney-Vento liaison – find out who this person is and get their help with Things, because even if kid isn’t technically covered by that law, this person will have heard of situations and Reasons before and is likely to actually be helpful.

      1. In more extreme situations I’m thinking it’s likely there was a guardianship change, which makes the student independent automagically. I’m thinking more of situations like my own that might be significant enough that living with a relative is wise, but not serious enough for FAFSA to care. If the student cannot be classified as independent for some reason (including an override), then they are stuck providing that parent info.

  31. Q13: Away We Go (2009) is a really sweet movie about a couple (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) looking for a home in which to raise their unborn child – it’s always been one of my favorite movies because they’re incredibly sweet and kind and supportive to each other throughout the whole movie. Any conflict stems from them vs. the world, never him vs. her! Thinking about it, this might have been the first example where I saw a couple that didn’t seem to borderline dislike each other in the media – definitely explains why I loved it so much from the get-go. They also have a scene where they refer to an issue in their relationship and it’s very clear it’s something they’ve discussed with care and kindness, which only goes to reinforce how good of a relationship they have. Definitely going to go rewatch this!

    1. I adore this movie! It’s been a while since I watched it too. Probably time to watch it again.

  32. Q12: Give it some time and guidance, but also, attraction is unpredictable and something that feels like a lack of skills is sometimes really a lack of attraction. A person whose appearance pleases your eyes and personality pleases your brain is not necessarily a person whose pheremones please your pheremones (or whatever animal brain thing is behind attraction).

    1. And sometimes the chemistry & pheromones for SOME parts of The Stuff are FANTASTIC, but still don’t work that well on other parts. LW doesn’t make it clear if they have done anything past kissing or not, so I’m unclear if it’s just the kissing that is unsatisfactory, or The Stuff beyond as well.
      My own example here would be my husband. He is not a great kisser, and the worst part is that there isn’t even anything really specific he does/doesn’t do where I could guide him, it’s just…not that exciting. And I LOVE kissing, I LOVE making out, it’s a HUGE turn on for me*, and very erotic, especially during sex. And I do find it disappointing…but when we get to the actual STUFF, the stuff BEYOND kissing…HOLY MIND BLOWING FIREWORKS ENDLESS ORGASMS BRAIN EXPLODING GODDAMN MOFOING SHIT! And after years of being together it has *only gotten better*! Now, we DO have a compatibility problem in that my sex drive is much, much higher (and this does cause problems and is part of the reasons I will eventually end up divorced) but if the sex, aside from kissing, had not been excellent from the start, he would never even have made it to boyfriend status, let alone husband (good sex is non-negotiable in my dating relationships), and I certainly don’t recommend putting up with anything less than full sexual satisfaction (unless it is something of non importance to you), but that can still mean that one part you like isn’t up to snuff, as long as everything else IS.

      *Which is precisely the reason I won’t engage in random kissing/makeout sessions with anyone unless I already know I want to fuck them…because if the kissing is good, I’m going to get turned on, and then I WILL want to fuck, no matter who that person is or how bad an idea fucking them might be.

    2. And I’ve also been with people where the *kissing* was fantastic but the rest of The Stuff was only so-so, so the opposite can be true as well.

  33. Q14, check out Emilie Autumn– she has a lot of these. The title track of Fight Like a Girl is a good example, as are I Want My Innocence Back and I Know Where You Sleep from Opheliac. Or, if you want an old classic, maybe try I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair from South Pacific?

    1. (Q14) Oo! I’m a musical theatre nerd, but I’ve never really gotten a chance to give South Pacific a go. I’ll look it up, thank you!

      1. Fair warning that there’s some racial dynamics/discussions of racism in there that I think fall into the category of ‘well, I suppose it was progressive for its time’ (although there’s also a song about how we acquire prejudices from our relatives (You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught) which has aged pretty well).

        1. Yes, it must have been amazingly progressive for its time, but Younger Than Springtime has not aged well AT ALL.

          1. Yeah, the representation of the nonwhite characters is…problematic. And a lot to get into.

            The song “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” is great out of context, but if you are feeling ragey, particularly about pervasive racism and sexism, I would not recommend watching the movie in full right now. The gender politics are also…well, they are very much of their time. In some not-great ways.

            Spoiler alerts for a movie made in 1958: I somehow never saw South Pacific in any form until I was about 29, and I was not familiar with the specifics of the plot. There’s the scene where Mitzi Gaynor’s character meets two adorable biracial children at her boyfriend’s house, and he explains that those are his children from a previous relationship. She’s bewildered, upset, and reacts very badly, and I confess that when I saw this, my first response was not “Oh, she’s upset because he had children with a woman of a different ethnicity and she is having a racist reaction to that,” it was “OF COURSE she is upset! They are in a serious relationship, and he’s talking about marriage, and he FAILED TO MENTION HE HAS CHILDREN?! WTAF?!” Because in my mind, “Oh, BTW, I have two kids; you down for maybe being a parent someday?” is a conversation that needs to happen long before you start talking about building a permanent future with someone.

            The movie seems to think that we’ll assume that Surprise!Children would have been totally cool if only Gaynor’s character didn’t have these racist hang-ups (implying that she would have been fine with it he had sprung Surprise!Children who were white? I guess?) and it really took me a few minutes to realize how I was supposed to interpret that scene and the conflict. As someone who is emphatically childfree by choice, my sympathies were immediately with the woman who was blindsided by Surprise!Children. It took me an embarrassingly long time to get on the same page as the movie, and even then, I kept thinking “but…but…Surprise!Children…what if she doesn’t want to parent…?” The idea of exploring racism by having this character react badly to the revelation that her boyfriend was previously in an interracial relationship and has biracial children is not a bad one–it’s taking a character the audience has been encouraged to like and think well of/identify with, and positioning her as someone who seriously needs to rethink her toxic biases. It’s just very clear that it absolutely never occurred to anyone that maybe this character might not want to be a parent, or might not be ready to be a parent YET, or might be feeling betrayed that her boyfriend DID NOT TELL HER ABOUT HIS SECRET CHILDREN. It is a weird blind spot of gendered expectations.

          2. Coffeespoons- I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen South Pacific, but I feel like I must have, I grew up in the 70s with my older stay at home mom always having the TV on to the syndicated stations that showed old movies constantly, and grew up with a great love of musicals especially because my mom loved those as well. Damn Yankees, Gypsy, Hello Dolly- I knew these movies and many many more intimately long before I even reached middle school! And I also grew up in a family where racism was unheard of…when she met my dad in the early 60s, my mom was dating a black man who was a cousin of the singer Pearl Bailey. So I would have parsed that scene exactly the same way you did- not that she was angry at having bi-racial kids sprung on her, but that she was angry at having KIDS sprung on her, PERIOD!

            Which reminds me of a dream I had shortly after my husband and I moved in together (over a year into our relationship), where he did just that- sprung a surprise kid on me that he hadn’t previously told me about (IRL we are both happily child free.) I was SO ANGRY in my dream, and his response was “but you’ll love him, he’s just like me!” and I was like THAT’S NOT THE POINT!!! 🤣🤣🤣

  34. #13 I’m a big fan of couples in secure, loving relationships. And where you see conflict where the characters get angry, without diving into and glorifying dysfunction or unnessary drama (I’m looking at you Ross and Rachel). These are some of my faves:

    Friday Night Lights (series): Eric and Tammy Taylor are my #relationshipgoals.
    Gilmore Girls: Emily and Richard Gilmore. They may be horrible parents, but as partners they are great together.
    Catastrophe: Sharon and Rob are a delightful disaster. (I have found watching this during this politcal climate especially soothing).

  35. Q4: IF you would also like to sometimes be the person treating your aunt and uncle to something, and IF you have room for it in your budget — I mention this mainly because you said you sometimes try to fight them for the check, so I’m guessing one or both of those are true — a nice thing you could do when housesitting is do a small grocery or takeout run on the last day, so that they come home to an easy meal they don’t have to think about or shop for, milk for the next morning’s coffee, etc. (My experience is that there’s a psychological aspect to Paying For Stuff in these sorts of situations, and that being able to pay for one small thing made me feel less stressed about the one-sided relationship than doing five free favors. I’m suggesting this mostly in case that’s what the Q4 writer is feeling.)

    1. Yes! Others have also suggested doing some light grocery shopping/meal prep for them when I’m house-sitting. I will definitely do so next time they’re out of town. And you’re totally right, I feel almost guilty that they’re paying for all these great things and doing all these great things for me, so it’s been great to get suggestions on how to show them my appreciation.

  36. Q14: The playlist is a great idea! How about: “Voices Carry,” ‘Til Tuesday; “The Bitch is Back” and “I’m Still Standing,” Elton John; “Fuck You,” Lily Allen; “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” Mary Chapin Carpenter; “Fighter,” Christina Aguilera; “Nasty,” Janet Jackson; “No More Drama,” Mary J. Blige.

    And of course no breakup joy playlist is complete without “I Will Survive”!

    1. (Q14 here)Voices Carry is the reason I have the playlist! Like, exhausting ex Was Exhausting and then I found that I had a copy in the middle of my giant disorganized itunes playlist (I’d been listening to it on YouTube all the times) and I was all like “OKAY TIME TO SLAM REPEAT AND ALSO ADD SOME OTHER GOOD THINGS!

      Thank you for the other recommendations!

  37. Q13: I asked a very similar question on Ravelry a while back and got some great answers! For Ravelers, it’s on LSG (

    Some highlights: Bones, Pacific Rim’s Mako and Rileigh, The Good Place, The West Wing, Babylon 5, the rebooted One Day at a Time, Brooklyn 99, and Parks & Rec.

  38. Q4: I was recently in a similar situation, and my recommendation is:

    Spend time with them.

    If you can work it in to your schedule to have a weekly (my family tends to the very close) or bi-weekly or monthly standing date with them, offer that (I used to go over to their place for dinner and CSI every Thursday). It could be them coming to you for dinner, too (My aunt and I started doing a mini-potluck, where she’d cook something and so would I and she and I would exchange notes. And sometimes my cousins would join in.) And I say this with the regret of hindsight, as well.

    Q10: Have your friend check with their school to see if there is an Ombudsperson who might be able to assist, as well. Our campus ombudsman is a lovely human being who I am fortunate to never have had to work with.

    1. Thanks for your comments! Great to hear from someone who’s been in my situation. Right now we get together multiple times a month and go out for a nice dinner once a month. I love the potluck idea and will absolutely suggest that in the future.

  39. That second picture of Daniel? He’s gonna talk about you in counseling, Captain. Just sayin’.

  40. Q2: Good lord, I second this concern so hard. I considered myself fairly aware of bullshit mysogyny but my eyes have now been opened so wide I suspect there is no way back and I am MAD. This is probably a good thing! Lysistrata time bitches. Yeah maybe not all men – but, you know, where are they? Probably not helpful to your question LW, apologies!

  41. Q4: make a commitment to pay it forward when you can, maybe tell them that?

    Q14: the next line is even better “so you can make me come that doesn’t make you Jesus”

    1. re Q14: yessss I searched the thread just to make sure someone had said this! What a good, good song.

  42. Re song suggestions

    Another good Tori breakup song is “tear in my hand”. And another good nineties album for breakups is alanis’s jagged little pull, which I realistened to recently and was still really cathartic. I also love Alabama shakes’ “I don’t want to fight no more.”
    But I want to make a pitch for the Disney yearning songs post breakup—belle wants adventure in the great white somewhere, Ariel doesn’t know when and she doesn’t know how, but she knows something’s starting right now, Moana wishes she could be the perfect daughter but she comes back to the water no matter how hard she tries, Elsa wants to see what she can do to test the limits and break through, Tiana has climbed the mountain and crossed the river and she’s almost there. Somehow, singing along to these simple, direct expressions of desire for personal adventure and fulfillment help me hear my own voice as distinct from my partner and kids. Bonus points if you ugly cry in the car while croaking g them out! 🙂

    1. oo! I’m well past the “breakup” part of it all (not that it doesn’t still feel weird and bad sometimes, but he’d been living across the country for like three years and we’d hardly talked in the last year and a half of it when he finally Got Exhausting Enough for me to pull the plug) so the cathartic ugly cry is not as necessary…but the BELTING ALONG AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE is always a net positive in my world.

      I’ve been singing How Far I’ll Go connnnnnstantly, and so I’m thrilled by the affirmation, and the reminder that it’s not the only excellent Disney song for belting. Thank you!

      (Also yes yes yes Jagged Little Pill! I only have “You Oughta Know”, I need to get the rest of it!)

      1. My favourite song for reminding myself why I’m done with exhausting people and celebrating their lack of presence in my life is Special Ones by George/Katie Noonan (same singer but the song was released twice, once under the group’s name and then just under hers). Scar by Missy Higgins is also pretty good.

      2. Yes! The belting! And that whole soundtrack is great–my backup husband Lin Manuel Miranda did a fantastic job!

  43. Q11: If you can afford to take it on, make sure she has pens, paper, notebooks, clothing, etc. Also, if there’s a way to ask without being intrusive, she may also need undergarments and makeup/hygiene products. Stuff that’s necessary to be prepared and not to be harassed while at school. If her mom is financially abusive (as mine was), she will not be provided basic survival needs beyond whatever is obvious on the surface. IOW, Mom might earn a six-figure salary and be moved to buy her child a cheap but decent coat and a new pair of school shoes (probably in styles the mom likes but which are deeply uncool to the kid’s peers) and then opt out of helping with anything else that would be hidden under the coat, and tell the kid to scrounge up mostly-dead pens and to use all the blank pages in all previous notebooks. That sort of thing. You’ll know if this applies.

    1. I was going to say hygiene products in particular if it’s appropriate for her tampons or towels. You sound like you’re doing everything you can to listen to her so I am sure you probably have this covered, but I’ve seen a lot on my local news about girls from difficult backgrounds missing school due to lack of supplies and if she has trouble asking for stuff she may have trouble asking for help with that stuff or even how to manage it, for different brands etc, painkillers and when to see Doctor.
      You might want to think about an allowance so she is able to buy small things for herself without asking. Though I would try to breach the hygiene stuff as either something she can ask you to buy or give her funds specifically for so she doesn’t feel like she can’t buy a snack or go out with friends because she has to buy basic everyday items.

          1. Fantasy kind of works, to be honest. Like, it’s like something out of a shy teen’s fantasy.

  44. for Q4: if you able to do so, consider inviting your aunt and uncle for dinner at your place, or offering to bring a meal to their place! yeah, maybe you’re cooking with the groceries they bought you, but you’re putting forth time and effort and most importantly, LOVE, and showing your appreciation. Along with the Captain’s suggestion to tidy up when you house-sit, again, if you can, cook a meal and leave it in their fridge for them so they will have something when they get home. I imagine you probably look for free or inexpensive activities for fun in your city – if you find something you think they’d enjoy, invite them to attend with you, or just pass along the information. And the other suggestions I saw in the comments are lovely too.

    1. Thanks for your suggestions! I especially like your idea of doing free/inexpensive activities in the city together

      1. at least for my city (Philadelphia), there’s a great resource at – see if your city has something similar! Keep an eye out for things like Restaurant Weeks (where places will offer some sort of prix-fixe menu), craft fairs, food/drink expos, etc. As it gets closer to the holidays, I bet you’ll see lots of opportunities with pop-up festivals and other events. I think you mentioned your aunt volunteering in another comment, see if you can join her on occasion, or maybe try and get donations for the charity at your workplace and donate in her name – some way to help pay it forward in a way that honors their generosity.

  45. For #11: My husband and I took in a teenage boy some years ago, for Reasons, like so many others. Since we weren’t legal family, and he was an active foster care case, we had to submit our request to be his caretakers, to his Case Worker. Long detailed story short, six months after he moved in, we were asked to file to be Third Party Guardians. I don’t know what that term would be in your region, we’re in Washington state. But I recommend going to your local foster office and asking for resources on gaining legal custody/guardianship of your teen. In my case, I was directed to a program in my city which provided a Guardianship Facilitator, who helped me figure out the legal forms and all the other details.

    I recommend checking with your foster care office for resources. They would know if any similar programs exist in your region, or if there’s training classes you can take.

    As for your teenager in question, the biggest thing I can advise is “Listen”. Our teen was, and is, very quiet. He’s an introvert through and through. But we learned to listen when he did speak up. And I learned to ask lots of questions. I’d ask for his opinions on the food, on the tv shows, on games or sports. And we allowed him to disagree with us on opinions. We were determined to make sure he was never derided for thinking differently than us. Over the years, doing that allowed him to even learn to argue with us and express frustration at disagreement over things like chores and homework.

    But I’d also ask him specific things like if he needed certain items for school, work, or whatever. With those questions, I’d be more specific than “Do you need anything from the store?” I’d ask if he needed cereal, milk, snacks, jeans, tshirts, shoes. How’s his backpack looking? Does he still have enough paper and pencils? It’s easy to forget little specific things. So, I’d ask.

    And we’ve never invaded his privacy. He spent a lot of time closed away in his room and we let him. Teenagers need space regardless of the circumstances they’re in. We wanted to engender trust in him. And give him the space to let him deal with his issues. We talked with him whenever he came out to the common area of the home. And I made sure to always knock and never open his door unless invited.

    This got longer than I expected and I’m sure I can keep going. I really hope your situation works out. Good luck securing guardianship!

  46. Some considerations for Q11, depending on age and circumstance:

    – What’s her pocket money situation? Does she have money to go on a school field trip, or grab coffee with her friends? Can you afford to provide her with this money? Will you give it to her if she asks? (If yes, have you explicitly told her she’s allowed to ask?) Could you give her an allowance, and/or pay her to do chores around the house?

    – What’s her health care situation? Does she have any necessary health/dental/drug insurance? Does she have a regular doctor/dentist, and do you know who it is? If not, you should probably set these things up before she needs them. In an ideal world, she’d be able to get any health care she needs independently, without your or her parents’ involvement, in case there’s anything she’d like to keep private. (If she’s reluctant to ask for stuff, you can also make clear that you will always take her to any medical professional – and pay, if applicable – with no questions asked.)

    – Does she have a phone and phone plan that are not under her parents’ control? (if the Reasons require keeping her safe from her parents’ control)

    – Does she have a job? Can you help her get a job? Having independent income and demonstrated employability is particularly important for kids with Reasons.

    – If her time with you overlaps the time when kids normally learn to drive in your area, can you make that happen for her? How much adult involvement does young driver training in your area normally require? (For example, when I was a teen, all driver education programs in my area were based on the assumption that you have access to a car to practice in, with an experienced licenced driver who was able and willing to practice with you.) If you aren’t able to help her yourself (for example, if you don’t have a car) are there other family members or friends who can? Again, the independence of having a driver’s licence is particularly important for kids with Reasons, and often more difficult for them to access.

    – If her time with you overlaps the time when kids normally apply to college or university, how will her situation affect her funding? Are you willing to help her with tuition? What other options does she have? Again, being able to successfully make the transition out of high school is particularly important for kids with Reasons.

  47. Q2: Not feeling motivated to date is a good enough reason not to date for a while. But, if you do decide to do online dating, I find it’s extremely useful to put “feminist” in your profile. Screens out a lot of the undesirable people.

    1. Yes, seconding this. I found being super explicit about my politics in my dating profile to be helpful when I was last online dating. I’m a union organizer, and was super direct about the fact that I have an activist-y job that I care about. I had some good conversations with dudes about politics and activism (and ended up dating one of them!) and also talked to others who were generally not awful.

      Also, if you’re using ok cupid (is that still popular? it’s been a couple years), rating all of the questions about politics as high importance seems to help your matches.

    2. Q2: Was also gonna say that! Captain Awkward has lots of good advice about making a dating profile that’s specific to you and what you’re looking for. I made a list of things that were essential for me in a partner and tried to wrap the top 3 into my profile, and feminist was one of them. I went on a lot of mediocre (and a couple spectacularly awful) dates but was lucky enough to never meet anyone scary or disrespectful.
      100% if online dating makes you feel exhausted and furious you can take a break. But assuming you’re wanting to give it a try, my top advice is to give everyone decent a chance. I unmatched anyone who gave off gross or creepy or racist/sexist/homophobic vibes, but anyone who wrote to me like a fellow human got a chance. I met some people who I REALLY didn’t click with and some people who wanted therapists, not dates, and I ended up rolling on the floor laughing with my roommate over the guy who narrated his novel to me over the course of a date I spent 3 hours trying to politely end. But I tried to think of it as a chance to see a new bar, to put on nice clothes and leave the house, and the possibility of a more-or-less interesting conversation. And then I met a couple people who were ok, who were easy to talk to and kinda funny and looked like they’d combed their hair before coming out and I went on second dates with them.
      One of these eh-more-or-less-interesting first dates is reading over my shoulder now and has been trying new bars with me for the past year! I think love-at-first-sight myths make us think that there need to be fireworks from day one for something to work out. I was pretty angry from a previous break up when I started dating and was ready for things not to work, so forcing myself to give the okay-not-amazing things a chance was the only way to do it for me.
      I know that can’t work for everyone, but if you use “basic human decency” as your baseline and then let dates potentially be just a funny story or a nice beer or someone selling just the bedside table you need in your room, it can be a little less exhausting.

  48. Q11: Health insurance? Would bills come to your address? Would you pay them? Are there premiums that need to be paid? Do you have standing to make decisions about medical treatments? Is that in her medical records/known at her dr’s office?

    Does she have a driver’s license? Need to be taught how to drive?

    Take her shopping for clothes/shoes/toiletries? Growing kids need new stuff more often than the rest of us. She might feel awkward asking for favorite or private items, but you could regularly give her a shopping basket in the drugstore to pick up what she needs.

    Help with plans for after school? Finding suitable colleges, visiting schools, taking the SAT, and understanding college finances can be a lot of work over several years and may need adult help. Same with researching and applying for jobs, apprenticeship programs, or joining the military. Does she need help choosing classes appropriate to her plans/that keep her options open/that suit her?

    There are lots of adult skills for a kid to be picking up gradually as a teen, from job interviews, to cooking and cleaning, to budgeting and banking.

    Is she old enough to vote? Need a hand getting registered?

    1. If it’s about shopping for items she might feel shy about, you can eyeball what you might spend and get pre-paid store cards so she can pick what she needs without having to reveal every small purchase. Say that you’re happy to help her pick out products if she wants, but if she’d rather shop on her own, she can.

  49. Q14: Try “Men Are Trash” by Tebi Rex.

    Ding Ding, Bell for class
    Like a test you don’t pass
    Listen up, learn fast
    Chapter One: men are trash

  50. I would definitely recommend Steven Universe for excellent family dynamics, including the parts where people mess up and apologize and figure out ways to make things work.

    1. Seconded! 🙂

      Also, seasons 1-5ish of Friendship Is Magic is good for non-romantic relationships. (although they’re not always great at boundaries. and it got kinda weird and mean a couple of years ago, so I don’t recommend recent seasons.)

  51. #13 – The Rose family on ‘Schitt’s Creek’ is a delightful depiction of shallow, self-absorbed people who have a surprisingly kind and wholesome (after a fashion) family dynamic. It consistently features kindness without being preachy or smarmy. Plus, Daniel Levy is just the bees’ knees.

    1. I came here to talk about Schitt’s Creek too! The main romantic relationship in season 4 is also very lovely, wholesome, supportive, etc. Makes my heart happy.

    1. Came here just to post this! They’re my favorite relationship on TV right now. (That show does a LOT of shit right, well worth checking out if you like political shows).

  52. I just want to quietly thank the Captain and the entire comment section and basically this entire place for more or less being and supplying my main coping methods with, well, everything that is currently happening. Thank you. I have been reading along (and reading the archive, and sending this to everyone) for a while now, but never has it felt that needed, so I think it’s time I break my lurking and properly express how grateful I am for you all. Jedi hugs for everyone who’d like them.

    As for positive relationships on the screen, I second the recommendation of Sense8, especially for Nomi and Amanita, who are amazing and supportive and very obviously genuinely love each other.

  53. Second picture looks to me like Daniel Striped Jason Mendoza Tiger very much wants to be a shark. “Take this off me hooman, or you’re going to need a bigger boat.”

  54. I’m spitting tacks on Q10’s friend’s behalf. What an awful thing to happen. Her friend shouldn’t have to rearrange her classes to avoid racist a-holes, they should have to rearrange their classes so she’s safe. And if that makes it harder for them to pass the course, well, that’s consequences. I guess in the real world, she has to worry about retaliation etc, but I so wish racists had proper consequences for their behavior.

  55. #13: Cherry and her husband Keith on GLOW are a wonderful, communicative, supportive couple that (not incidentally) clearly still have the hots for each other. It’s even more striking in contrast to the 80s misogyny infecting the rest of the male characters. And (SPOILER) Ruth makes the right choice at the end of the last season with the suitor who treats her right, I’m looking forward to watching that relationship develop also.

  56. For Q6: I had a similar problem with my grandmother a while back, and it turned out that in her case she wasn’t using exclamation marks to indicate an “order” but rather to express excitement. So since then what I’d do is just mentally append “OMG” or “:D” to the end of her messages whenever they’d seem too curt or abrupt and unlike her. Of course, I’m not saying that this is necessarily the case with your mother and you know her better than I do, but if she doesn’t usually *speak* abruptly or curtly and she’s only like that in written text, it might be a factor to consider.

    (Side note: another thing that would drive me up was when my gran would end her texts with “…” since, to me, “Have a nice day…” sounds unenthusiastic and quite possibly ominous, but she was using it to soften the harshness of a full stop, since “Have a nice day.” appeared abrupt or sarcastic.)

    1. Yes – it’s hard to tell from the question, but this sounds like it might be a new thing that only applies to internet comments, in which case it’s very likely that Mom just doesn’t express emotion/politeness in internet text the same way Daughter does. This is something that depends a lot on where and when on the internet you learned (if you ever learned at all.)

      CA’s advice still applies! Ask you mom why she’s talking to you that way, and listen to her answer. This might be a boundaries/relationship issue, but you might just need to learn to mentally translate from her internet dialect to yours.

  57. Q11 – this is a relatively little thing but it seems to make a difference. Kids who aren’t able to live with their parents/caregivers tend to find that the food at New Home isn’t the same as Old Home. They have always had butter but you use margarine, they like green grapes but you have red. Minor points but they are a reminder that nothing is quite the same. For this I’d suggest:
    1. Ask her to text/tell/write down some snacks that she likes to help her feel like at least something is the same. Pretzels still taste like pretzels in New Home.
    2. Give her a say in what you are eating but without being overwhelming. E.g. I’m about to go shopping, would you like pasta or burgers for dinner? Unlimited choice might make her feel like she’s being put on the spot.
    3. Make sure she knows that she can take and eat food. If she is only eating when you prepare or get out food, it might be that she isn’t comfortable rummaging through the fridge for something to snack on.
    I’m sure others have far more important points but just thought I’d throw in my 2c.

    1. Building on this, when I was a teen we had a running grocery list in a specific location in the kitchen. Anyone could add anything they wanted to the list, and whoever was going grocery shopping next would get whatever’s on the list.

      If your grocery budget and shopping logistics permit, introducing this kind of system might help her get the food she likes without feeling she’s making a special request.

      1. Also, if all parties have smartphones, there’s an app called Out of Milk (free on the Google Play store, and I’d assume likewise for Apple devices, but I know next to nothing about Apple) that you can all download to your phones and it will sync grocery lists across phones if you set it that way.

        The original idea (I think) was: Household Member 1 goes to the supermarket and ten minutes later, Household Member 2 realizes that they’ve used up the last of the bread, so HM2 adds bread to the shared grocery list and it appears on HM1’s phone so that nobody has to do the “Damn, I didn’t realize we were out of bread!” back-and-forth to the supermarket thing, which is a minor annoyance in most cases but can be a major annoyance to burn through that much fuel/public-transit fare if money is really tight and/or people live far from a supermarket.

        1. We use AnyList. I don’t know if it’s better than Out of Milk. But yes, sharing grocery lists was a lifesaver for us. We used to have endless stupid problems with DH carrying the list in his pocket all day, buying none of the stuff, and ignoring anything I put on the list because “that’s not the real list”.

          1. We just use a shared note in Google Keep. it’s a bit short on features, but I haven’t had data loss issues in a while, and it required zero setup on my husband’s part.

    1. That’s exactly what I was wondering when I read the question. I wish we had upvotes on this site specifically so I could upvote this and help send it to the top of the thread!

  58. q14 – I really, really love All Men Are Pigs by Studio Killers. It’s a fun song to dance and sing along to.

    my logic will prevail
    so shut up nightingale
    this is no fairytale, every single male
    that I’ve met to this day had a curly tail

  59. I moved homes during my teen years, although not for terribly negative reasons (my parents were moving overseas, and I wanted to graduate in my home state for a good in-state scholarship). I moved in with my BFF’s family, and while I was shy and awkward at first, it ended up being a really positive experience! Here are some things that helped me:

    – Legally, you’ll probably need legal guardianship. I think my parents went to the courthouse with my new legal guardians and just signed some papers and it was done? Also, you’ll want medical/dental type info if possible.

    – Give her a space of her own if possible. Privacy was VERY important for me that year. Even though I loved my guardians and my BFF, sometimes I got really homesick, and having a space to shut the door and cry out the feels without making it A Thing was good.

    – Include her in your family rituals! My guardians did a lot of things my family didn’t, and they made sure I was always invited. I had a regular seat at the dinner table and went out with the whole family for weekly Mexican night. When relatives from out of town came to visit, I was included in the activities. And when Christmas rolled around, out came a stocking with my name on it that matched the same style as the family stockings (that hits me in the feels even now).

    – When it was time to college hunt, my guardians helped me with the process, and drove me out to tour colleges.

    – My guardians made it clear I was allowed to invite friends over for normal teen friend stuff, including sleepovers. (it was very smooth since their daughter was my BFF and we already ran in the same friend groups). Same with participating in extracurricular activities. Basically, I got to be a normal teen and do normal stuff, just in a different house.

    – In many ways, the experience meant I had to grow up a little faster than my peers. It was a little like going off to college a year early. My guardians didn’t presume to be my parents, and depending on the age and relative maturity of your teen ward, this might or might not be a good attitude to take. It worked really well for me, but there weren’t many situations where I really needed parenting in the more negative/corrective sense. My guardians were very gentle, kind people, and having come from a very authoritarian household, I remember it being a breath of fresh air, and very healthy for me to see.

    To this day, I’m still in touch with my old guardians, and they very fondly call me their ward and look forward to seeing me. 🙂 So even if you only have her for a year or two, the time she spends with you may be quite formative and positive and something that brings you close together for the rest of your lives. I wish you luck, and I hope it works out great!

  60. Q11: As a parent, I’d suggest the following practical matters:

    Is Mom totally out of the picture, or is she financially responsible for Teen Relative’s needs? Is she likely to withhold help out of resentment? Can you afford to pay for TR’s basic needs long-term, if Mom can’t or won’t help? Including her necessary clothes, underwear, school or sports fees, extracurriculars, and healthcare?

    Who is her primary care physician/practice? Do you have authority to deal with them, and depending on her age/needs, do you need access to her medical records or to make treatment decisions? Is she seeing any specialists, therapists, or counselors? What are the insurance or payment arrangements for healthcare? Is she current on her vaccinations, and does the school require a record of them? Do you have a list (mentally or written) of any pre-existing conditions, medications she needs, drug allergies, etc? Do you know what pharmacy has her prescriptions or history on file? Is she on any controlled medications (like some ADHD meds)? Do you have authority to pick those up?

    Same list for dental, eyesight, and obgyn if applicable.

    Speaking of Obgyns, do you have period supplies on hand in the size/style she prefers?

    Do you know the appropriate dosages for her body mass of OTC medications, or is she able to dose herself? Do you have supplies on hand of appropriate OTC meds for pain/fever, allergies, upset stomach, or any other minor issues she’s likely to deal with?

    Ice packs, heating pads or muscle rubs, Ace bandages, Band-Aids and antibiotic ointment are also good to have, particularly if she plays sports or has active/hands-on hobbies.

    Do you live in the same school district as her mom’s home, or does she need a special waiver to continue at that school? Are you authorized to be the point of contact about grades, activities, guidance, etc?

    It would be good for you to make contact with the guidance counselor at her school to alert them to the disruption she’s going through. That way they are prepared to help if she has any issues with stress or adjustment.

    Does she drive? Is she learning? How will it impact your insurance if she drives your car? Is there any impact to your housing situation (lease, neighbors, insurance) of adding a new member to your household?

    Is she still growing/changing bust size? Does she have an adequate supply of clothes that fit the school dress code? Can she shop for herself, or does she need you to take her? Is she self-aware enough to know when she’s grown out of something, or does she need you to tell her?

    Some things to consider/work out as you all settle in together:

    “Teenage” is a big range – is she old enough for a job? How are you planning to approach the issue of pocket money/nonessential spending?

    How much is she going to see her friends? Is she dating? Can friends or dates come hang out at your house? Do you know their parents?

    What expectations are you going to set about curfew, safe/responsible behavior, respect, independence, chores, grades, and so forth? What relational capital do you have with her, and what styles of accountability fit her needs and your relationship?

    Best wishes to all of you.

  61. Q4: I have relatives like this. Be thankful for the kindness and generosity they’re showing. Let it make you feel warm and fuzzy, knowing that they care about you and want to support you as you establish yourself in the world.

    If you can, find a non-monetary way to return the love that’s behind it. That could mean a lot of things:
    – Bringing them gifts (homemade things are great for showing love, as are little things like a bit of their favorite chocolate or a mug with a really perfect-for-them quote on it)
    – Helping them around the house (I’m assuming they’re getting towards upper-middle-age–are there any chores that a younger body might be able to do faster?)
    – Putting time and effort into showing up (I make a point of visiting them out their way when I can–I love them, I want to see them, and I think me putting in the planning/transit time helps emphasize those feelings)
    – Words–“Thank you” and “I love you” always go a long way, especially with the force of sincerity behind them

    If you can’t figure anything else out (or actually, even if you can!), plan to pay it forward when you’re the local auntie/uncle/godparent/neighbor/etc. There will be kids in your life who will someday become young adults who might benefit from a little support, and knowing that they raised you to be the kind of person who gives where they can will likely be its own reward for your family.

  62. OP 4: If you bake or do any crafts, those are great, thoughtful gifts for your aunt and uncle.
    OP 14: Pink’s So What; Alain’s Morissette’s You Oughtta Know; and if you want really old school, I Hate Men from Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate

  63. Q14:
    Carolina Chocolate Drops: No Man’s Mama and Hit ‘Em Up Style

    The classic These Boots Are Made for Walking, sung by Nancy Sinatra

    Dixie Chicks: Goodbye Earl

  64. 4: Maybe make a nice (not ‘fancy’…nice) dinner for them in your house with some of those bulk groceries. You don’t have to be a gourmet, just make a nice meal. Don’t know how to cook? You Tube is your friend! 🙂

    That way you uncle can’t insist on paying the check (yeah, I know they paid for the groceries…it’s complicated). Regardless, you are doing something with them, and for them without it turning into one more time they spend money on you. I get it, You need to feel like you are doing some aspect of the social obligation/reciprocity thing.

    It’s hard when someone is always doing for you and they don’t let you give back (even if they are well intentioned) because it feels like you are always taking…and giving can feel pretty good too.

    Personal anecdote: A while back my car got totaled in an accident so I was without a car for a while. No one was hurt which was “the most important thing” and the insurance paid off the loan. Unfortunately they didn’t give me any money (but yay no more car payment!!!) so it took a while to save to get something safe/decent.

    I had a friend/neighbor who would drive me places. Mostly just the grocery store/pharmacy because I just can’t impose on people to go farther when I can take a bus/Uber/Lyft/Taxi.

    Sure I could take Uber/Lyft/Taxi to the store, and was always willing to do so, but the friend insisted so why not? She would never take gas money or anything else. One day I absolutely insisted “at least let me buy you a freaking Starbucks!” She “got” it.

    So plan a meal. Even spaghetti, a giant salad, and garlic bread with a nice wine (if everyone drinks wine…like even a cheapie bottle of something like Barefoot … a red works well) or a pitcher of iced tea… and invite them over for a night of food and Canasta or something.

  65. Hellooooo everyone. I have not done my due diligence of reading (or even skimming!) all the comments thusfar, so my apologies for repeating, if it’s happening.

    Q4! So I have been living a bit of a shoestring life for a while now, surrounded by generous and well-off parents. (So, so grateful.) Anywho, I have since gotten myself a well-paying job and moved to a lovely city with a lower cost of living. This means that I am no longer on the shoestring.

    My folks came to visit a few weekends ago, and the first night they were here, we decided just to stay in, order pizza, and watch TV. I ordered the pizza online, and so I paid, and my parents were very gracious in letting me pay and thanking me for the hospitality. My mom didn’t even try to hide a twenty in my purse like she used to when I tried to refuse repayment as a way of showing my gratitude.

    To anyone else, this would sound like totally normal human behavior, but it was quite a moment for us, because they never used to let me pay for anything (and, to be fair, did not let me pay for anything else the remainder of their visit).

    Take this to mean that you can do lovely and gracious things with the resources you currently have (time, energy, kindness) and eventually there may come a time where you (and they) feel comfortable with you thanking them in money (or pizza). 🙂

    Q11! I’m a high school teacher, so I’m thinking about your question from that perspective. The parents of my students rarely contact me; in fact, we are in less and less contact the older the kids get (up until college application time, when I want to melt away into the earth forever). That being said, if the parenting situation for any of my students was to change, it would be so nice to hear from the *new* “parent.” This can be as simple as a quick email just saying, “Hi, we’re so-and-so. As you may know, Avery has come to live with us for the foreseeable future. They seems to be settling in well, but I wanted you to be in the loop in case their behavior changes at school. Please feel free to contact me about anything relating to Avery’s school experience. Thanks!”

    This note does a couple things. First, it doesn’t ask anything of the teacher that they wouldn’t already do (it’s not saying, “Tell me everything about Avery at school as if I’m brand new to the gig,” even though you are). Second, it gives the teacher a heads up about a potentially difficult thing one of their students is facing. Stuff shows up in strange ways in teenagers, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out (from the teacher POV) where that’s coming from – is it the lesson we just did? Is it some brewing social drama? Etc. Last, it establishes some clear communication in case the teacher needs to know who to talk to. I had a student one time with a complicated parental situation, but the wrinkles of it were never made entirely clear to me (partly due to my principal not communicating the issue clearly). That meant that when I needed to communicate with all the parents of my students about some routine thing, I had no idea who exactly I should be calling from that family.

    Plus, the ideal situation for every child is having their home peeps and their school peeps (and their other peeps like sports, clubs, churches, etc) all on the same team. Reaching out to the teacher (and not just the school in general) will make that closer to happening.

    Enjoy having this unique experience of a teenager in your life. 🙂

  66. 1: LD for years? I don’t think I could do that with no end in sight.

    Husband and I were LD for about eight months at one point, but there was a more or less definite end date. I say “more or less” because we didn’t have an actual date, but we did absolutely have a time frame as in “around April/May…early-ish spring.”

    There is such a thing as being geographically inaccessible/unacceptable. If this has already gone on for years and you expect it to go on for more years, IMO that’s not much of an actual “partnership.” It’s more like occasionally dating. YMMV of course.

    You say you are interested in someone else. Are they local (ish)? IME if you are “with” one person but find a different person arousing your interest, it’s pretty much time to call it a day on person number one because you just aren’t “into” them the way you used to be. It can take a while to realize that, I know it did (multiple times) in my case, but time and again…it’s proven accurate.

    ❝If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because, if you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second.❞
    ―Johnny Depp (I think)

    1. Sometimes, LD-for-years or LD-forever is just what’s in the cards (one of my LDRs has been going on for 14 years, because I fell for someone in another country while still raising a kid who was fairly young at that point, and emigrating wasn’t an option.)

      But you have to be genuinely okay with it, and at peace, rather than being miserable about the situation.

      Also, we’re polyamorous, which meant that the choices weren’t “give up this partner or spend most in-person time alone.”

      But, in a monogamous scenario, if you’re unhappy with no end to LD in sight, and attracted to someone local, it’s a pretty good signal that your circumstances need to change, whether that involves a move, a breakup, or a renegotiation of relationship agreements.

    2. It’s possible to genuinely love two people, even if you (or they) are monogamous and therefore aren’t going to be involved with them both. In a case like this, the second person’s advantage may only be proximity–which is nontrivial, but doesn’t mean LW loves them more than, or even as much as, their long-distance partner.

      In this case, part of the value of the Captain’s advice is that it doesn’t say “you must be with exactly one of these people”: Maybe Local Possible isn’t available for the shape of relationship the asker wants, or is great to go to the movies with but would be horrible to live with and OP’s goal is a partner they can happily live with, not swapping long distance for a non-cohabiting local partner, or a different kind of incompatibility.

      (Like Ashbet, I’m an outlier even among polyamorous people, in being okay with a relationship staying long-distance, but long distance really is a different shape of thing than even a non-cohabiting relationship with someone who lives an easy drive or bus ride away, and I know it doesn’t suit everyone. I think there’s also an important difference between choosing/accepting that this is the shape of relationship we are going to have, for as long as it works, which I hope will be the rest of my life, and “I’ll do long distance because I love you and we can’t be together right now, but expect that we will be after X event,” even if X is four or five years from now.)

    3. Happily long-term poly person begs to differ that no one can love two people at the same time. Even if someone chooses to be monogamous, they’re still going to occasionally find other people attractive. Because your partner, amazing as they may be, is not the only compatible person on the planet and it’s human nature to notice and be drawn to awesome people. What you do with that attraction is another story, but the occasional crush on someone else is not a sign that a relationship is doomed. Acknowledge it to yourself, reaffirm your commitment to the person you chose, try to spend less time with Shiny New Person for a bit, and the hormones will calm down eventually. Hasn’t Johnny Depp cycled through four wives or something?
      “I’m married, not dead!” – lots of happily married folks noticing other cute people

      1. I do get that it’s possible to love more than one person at a time. I know people are in poly relationships. As I understand things poly relationships work a little differently than “just the two of us and no more than that” relationships. The OP didn’t say she is poly so I was addressing her as someone who indicated that she is in a two person relationship.

        That said, the quote wasn’t mine. I only added it as food for thought. I think that if a person is in a two person only, monogamous relationship and they find themselves being attracted to another separate person then that’s something worth thinking through pretty thoroughly. If one is in a LD relationship with no end in sight, and they would like that to change, ergo they are frustrated, I think that can start to be the beginning of the end a lot of the time.

        I didn’t mean to leave out any possible relationship configurations. There are many and I get that but the OP didn’t indicate anything other than “just the two of us…monogamous” and while I could probably write another 900 page dissertation (yeah it got edited waaaayyyyy down) I’m not as great at the Captain with non-academic, informal writing. I just didn’t have the time to research every possible combination/scenario beyond the one OP was talking about.

        1. Yes, the quote is food for thought; that’s what I at least was nibbling on. Not “Kaos is wrong” but “here’s why I disagree with the quote”–and my point was that even for monogamous people it’s not necessarily the case that if you fall in love with someone else, that means you’re no longer in love with your current partner. Nor that the only choices are “stay with your current (in this case long-distance) partner, or choose the specific other person you’re now interested in.” Maybe OP would be better off breaking up with the LD person, so they could have the good as well as the bad parts of being single.

        2. I’m sorry people are piling on you for this. I’m hardwired monogamous, and understand exactly what you mean. I am *incapable* of being in love with two people at once, or even being sexually attracted to two people at once if I am emotionally involved with one of them.
          I’m also one the type of person who needs there to be sparks/sexual attraction right from the get-go in order to date or sleep with someone, if it’s not, then no amount of time, companionship, or close friendship will EVER turn into a crush, or romantic or sexual love. So maybe that differentiates me from less monogamous people as well.

      2. No, actually some of us are wired to be so hardcore monogamous, that we really DON’T notice other attractive people when we are partnered up, except possibly in the most perfunctory, not actually being attracted to them way.
        I am SO much that way, that I have a partner and start noticing other attractive people? It means that relationship is in deep shit and most likely over, aka I’ve had it with their BS and my attraction & affection for them is going down the pipes.

    1. Q3 I don’t have anything to add to the captain’s advice. I concur with Kaos, and the sound is so distinctive… shiver.
      Yesterday I was on a 5hr flight. Enroute a person cut their nails, it is so gross.

    2. She could show them this clip and be like “LOL, isn’t The Good Place the best show ever?” Maybe they’d get the hint.

  67. Q11 – hopefully you have this sorted already, one thing I found really difficult and embarrassing when I stayed with other people as a teenager was dealing with menstruation – being too embarrassed to speak up if I had forgotten to bring or had run out of pads or tampons and not having any money of my own to buy them, not knowing what the arrangements were for disposing of used products, and not knowing how I should handle getting blood on sheets, towels or clothes. Fear of being shamed or getting in trouble for being lazy/careless/failing to plan etc led to doing things I cringe at now – making do with toilet paper or paper towel, hiding/throwing out underwear. It would have been so much easier if my hosts had just explained up front how things worked in their household in a kind, matter of fact way and offered to give me anything I might need.

  68. Question #4 (and forgive me if someone’s already said this…) we all – when we can – like to help others.
    But what is easy to forget is that for ever help- er there must be a help-ee. It is actually a charitable act to allow someone to help you.
    (Lesson learned long and hard by someone who is fiercely independent and graced with fibromyalgia )

    1. I agree but I also think it’s hugely important to allow the help-ee to reciprocate however they are able to when they want to because otherwise it can feel like so much “charity/pity.”

      “…graced with fibromyalgia…” What a very cool way to put this. I am officially appropriating it. I will also use it for all of the other 10,000 things that are wrong with me.


  69. For cute TV relationships, seconding Parker/Hardison from Leverage and also reccing Peter and El from White Collar. They have an awesome supportive marriage and a really great dog and the show has fun playing with marriage tropes (for example, they subvert the classic ‘misunderstanding leads to fight’ trope a lot, including once where he has to go on a double date sort of thing for a case —- there’s a big ‘uh-oh’ moment when she finds out about it, until she breaks down laughing and gives him tips on flirting with his date because he’s terrible at flirting). They’re such a good couple! Also they both have separate successful careers.

    For ‘fuck men’ songs:

    ‘The Water is Wide’ (folk). Bunch of different lyrics, but the one I learned goes in part: ‘o love is handsome, and love is fine, and tis a jewel, when it’s first new, but when it is old, it groweth cold, and fades away, like morning dew’. Fun to hate-warble.

    ‘The King of Brooklyn’ by Devil Doll (rockabilly). Sample lyric: ‘I want to kiss you, then punch you in the face/ fuck you, for never being true’.

    ‘You and I’ by Krypteria (metal). Sample lyric: ‘You gave me oh so much that I never wanted, you gave me everything I can’t stand, you’re like a ton of dust when I’m lost in the desert, a bag of bricks when I’m stuck in quicksand’.

    These were all pretty helpful during my breakup a few years back!

  70. Q12: I married a man who was a virgin and never had a gf before me. He was not great at sexy stuff at first and it took a lot of practice. The nice thing from him is that he was eager to learn and pays a lot of attention to my feedback (even if that feedback is only moans and my body tensing when he gets to the right spot.) No one is expected to know how to do things if they’ve never done them before… just don’t treat it as an insult would be my advice. You should be able to bring this up, adult to adult, without it being a thing. “I’m a person who really enjoys kissing, but I’ve been having problems with our kisses, could we do some practice?” I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone for whom “lets practice intimate physical contact” from a significant other is a bad thing.

  71. Q 11

    I haven’t seen this mentioned (or missed it) but I think it’s extremely important to find out what sex education your relative has had, to provide resources (e.g. Scarleteen) and to start a dialogue about relationships, including sex & consent.

    You might like to seek some advice from parenting fora or to find a mentor with whom you can talk about strategies for this.

    It may be that your relative wants to pursue effective contraception or to get advice and guidance about it. Or they may never have had any opportunities to talk about it with a responsible adult, or it may not have crossed their mind. It may be tricky if they are shy but I think it’s very important.

    As part of checking in with your relative, it’s worth asking if she needs pain relief, heat packs, etc for when she has her period. If she reports high levels of pain, can’t function as usual or needs to take days off school, please follow up with an appropriate health professional.

    I grew up with two sisters before the Internet existed, and we all would have benefited from professional help from a gynaecologist as teenagers and young adults. Our parents didn’t take us seriously when we complained about excessive pain, for instance, so all three of us thought it was normal (it was not). I still remember this miserable aspect of being a teenager and how much it affected my everyday life.

    1. Q 11

      You know the circumstances of your relative & why they can’t live with their mother anymore. If my advice is likely to be a trigger for them, please seek professional help for them and yourself.

    2. Yes, that’s the first thing that came in my mind also when I read the question: contraception and menstruation. It’s difficult to talk about but that’s why it’s important that the adults take the lead.

    3. This is such a good post. Great advice. I hadn’t seen it either yet so I’m glad you pointed it out. As we all know way too often girls/women issues (particularly health) issues get ignored or at best considered an afterthought as in “oh yeah, I guess she has periods…it didn’t occur to me she might need tampons/pads/Midol…etc)…even by other women. Freaking patriarchal socialization!

  72. LW4, I am the uncle in a situation similar to yours. You sound like a wonderful niece, and I’ll bet your aunt and uncle are thrilled that you want to spend time with them.

    1) Do not underestimate the value of a reliable pet-sitter. SRSLY.

    2) Between visits, my niece sends me occasional text messages, photos, book recommendations, etc. This communicates that, like me, she cares about the relationship, not who’s picking up the tab.

    3) The nicest gift she ever gave me was a brief but very thoughtful handwritten note, telling me how much she appreciates having me in her life. It wasn’t about the things I pay for, but about how I have modeled for her what Functional Adulting looks like. Two years later, I still re-read it from time to time, and bask in the glow.

    1. Just double reiterating #1 here. You’re enabling them to travel without stressing about the health and happiness of their pets (and saving them the cost of a pro sitter). That is a huge gift!

  73. Lovely commenters upthread already nailed the suggestions I was going to post for Q13 (pretty sad that I could only think of two relatively recent ones), but apparently my musical taste is more…esoteric. So:

    Q14: Angry songs!

    You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing, Halestorm
    Undo It, Carrie Underwood (She has a *lot* of angry songs, but I’m kind of uncomfortable with most of them.)
    Hell No, Ingrid Michaelson
    Something Positive And Hopeful, Chely Wright
    Leave Me Alone, The Veronicas
    Peace Sign, Jo Dee Messina (Not as angry, but fun – she does a lot of songs in this tone if it’s what you’re looking for.)
    Stronger, Kelly Clarkson
    That’s What I Call Crazy, Lucy Hale
    Famous, Kelleigh Bannen
    Beating Me Up, Rachel Platten
    Sucks To Be You, Danielle Peck
    According To You, Orianthi
    Shut Me Up, Lindsay Ell
    Looking Forward to Looking Back, Mandy Moore
    King Of Anything, Sara Bareilles

    1. Can I make this a thread?

      I love Emma9’s list but it neglects many of my favorite badass music ladies. So!

      M.I.A — P.O.W.A, Visa, YALA, Mithangi, Bring The Noize, and Swords are probably her most furious anthems. The entire AIM album is phenomenal, though.

      Angel Haze– Werkin’ Girls, Crown, A Tribe Called Red, and Deep Sea Diver are A+. Note: Angel Haze does swear a lot, including using the n-word. She’s black, but I know that not every black person is okay with that word, so, just a heads up. Deep Sea Diver doesn’t include swearing.

      Nicki Minaj– The Boys. Most Nicki Minaj things I tend to put in the “guilty pleasure” category, but The Boys is one of those songs where I’m like, “I feel this.”

      Amanda Palmer– The Killing Type, Want It Back, Mr. Weinstien Will See You Now [this song is full of perfect righteous fury but also definitely made me ugly-cry, so, maybe not on every angry-anthem playlist]

      K.Flay — K.Flay does sadness and curiosity more than anger, but she has a few– Blood In The Cut, Run For Your Life, 10th Avenue, Champagne.

      But what I love-love from her are her hopeful songs about her friendships with other women and feeling responsible towards girls who look up to her: Thicker Than Dust, Slow March, Giver, Get It Right.

      P!NK (or just Pink)– The King is Dead But The Queen Is Alive (never gets old!), U + Ur Hand, Beautiful Trauma (more about healing after the fury)

      Janelle Monae — Screwed, Dance or Die / Faster, QUEEN

      Big Freedia– Rent

      Vienna Teng– My Medea– more a quiet, slow-burning rage, over piano

    2. Another good one from Jo Dee Messina is “Bye-Bye.”

      “Bye-bye, love, I’ll catch you later, got a lead foot down on the accelerator and the rear view mirror torn off, ’cause I ain’t ever looking back, and that’s a fact!”

  74. #13: I love Amy and Jake on Brooklyn Nine Nine! They are very different people, but they both clearly deeply appreciate the others’ quirks and differences, and both make the effort to cater to the others’ needs and interests. The show manages to avoid most of the usual romantic plotline pitfalls too, and when they do have problems they talk it out together in a really mature and loving way. 😊❤

    One of my favourite scenes of them together is s5 ep9 when Amy has to harness her “high strungness” to be hyper organised to get the group back to New York in a short amount of time, and Jake just gazes lovingly at her, so impressed.

    And the final episode of season 5, their wedding, when Jake has thought ahead for things Amy might need on the day and just has a bunch of nicotine patches and Amy’s allergy medication stashed away on his person just in case. 😁❤

    1. Yeah, I was so worried that was going to be “nag takes care of manchild and gets mocked as the killjoy as she’s cleaning up all his messes,” and it turned out to be really good. That show keeps making me happy.

      1. Me too! I’m so glad they didn’t go that route, and that Jake really steps up for her. 😊❤

      2. Me too! I’m so glad they didn’t go that route, and that Jake really steps up for her. 😊❤

  75. For Q4, next time you house sit, before you leave cook them a beautiful meal that can be put in the refrigerator and then easily reheated. Set their table nicely, maybe put down some candles and matches, or fresh flowers. Leave a bottle of wine if you can afford it and they drink it. That way when they come home from their trip all tired and expecting an empty refrigerator, they can enjoy a romantic meal together, on you 🙂

  76. Q4: I think the Caps suggestions on this are great 😊 I would suggest also that once in a while you arrange an opportunity to cook for them. They’re probably going to insist on paying for the groceries, don’t fret that 😊 If you have the skills, or want to learn 😊, cook them a 3-course meal if something homelier is your style go for that. Just put a little bit more effort in than you would for an everyday meal. Cooking for people is basically an universal way of saying I love you and want to make you feel good 😊

    1. That was my very first thought as well. I mentioned it in my longer comment. They are already buying her groceries in bulk so she should use some of them to make a nice meal.

      Even simple meals (spaghetti with a big salad and garlic bread, beer can chicken with broccoli and mashed potatoes and gravy, a nice stew with crusty rolls and a tomato and onion salad, or a hamburger Wellington [that’s my dinner plan for tonight]) can all be made pretty cheaply but are still comforting, loving, hearty and welcoming meals.

      Warm weather meals can be something as simple as a huge salad with grilled steak or chicken (one steak or large chicken breast can be split three ways pretty easily) with a baguette and a pitcher of lemonade. Also “Everyone has to eat over the sink” taco night…so many possibilities.

  77. For Q14: Kesha’s Praying seems to fit pretty well here. I’m not even routinely angry at men and I’ll belt that one out in the car figuratively at jerks from over a decade ago.

  78. Q14 – Great Question! Here are some of my favorites:

    Hozier – Nina Cried Power

    never forever – kerosene

    Netta – (I’m Not Your) Toy

    In This Moment – Whore

    Natalia Kills – Problem <— my anthem

    Halestorm – I Am The Fire & Call Me A Bitch Like It's A Bad Thing

    Dorothy – Raise Hell

    All American Rejects – Hope It Gives You Hell

    Missio – Middle Fingers (In The Air)

    AJR – Burn The House Down

    Two Feet – Feel Like I'm Drowning & Go Fuck Yourself

    grandson – Thoughts & Prayers

    Bring Me The Horizon – True Friends

    Sixx AM – Skin

    30 Seconds To Mars – Stronger

    Pulp – Like A Friend

    Raleigh Ritchie – Stronger than Ever & The Greatest

    Kontra K – Adrenaline (German rap)

      1. I’m following my Band Nerd kid so he can teach me. So, you follow me, I follow him, and we’ll dance it out in a conga line! When I dip, you dip, we dip. LOL!

  79. Q11: A teenage relative recently moved in with my partner and I.

    Make her feel welcome and valued. Talk to her. Listen to her. Play board games with her. Show interest in what she’s interested in.

    I spent time living with friends of my parents when I was 12-13 and starting my first year of high school, because Reasons.

    My host family fed me, and told me off when I did the wrong thing, but otherwise ignored me.

    The household was mother, father (both in their 40s/50s), a son (19/20), and an overseas student boarder with not much English (19/20.)

    Whenever I tried to talk to any of them, I was brushed off and dismissed – they were always too busy to talk to me or play a game with me.

    The father was busy with his job, the mother was busy with her PhD, there was just never any TIME for me. (Except for scolding me when I did the wrong thing. There was plenty of time for that.)

    It really hurt my feelings, and made me feel very lonely and isolated.

    To be honest, I felt that they regarded me as an unwanted burden/nuisance, like grudgingly feeding your next-door neighbours cat when your neighbours go away on holiday.

    1. Oh, yes. At least one meal per day together, sitting down at a surface facing each other if you can. I was surprised at what a huge, difference that made.

  80. Q11: A teenage relative recently moved in with my partner and I.

    Follow up: if there are any rules about things she is not allowed to touch/do/read/handle/eat, TELL HER.

    Don’t expect her to somehow magically intuit household rules.

    1. I used to know someone who had several foster care families growing up and he said one of the hard things was to figure out what WAS allowed, so I offer this corellary : state clearly things that she MAY do. All these normal things have been forbidden by parents my friend told me about or I’ve read about since then: Closing their bedroom door. Having friends visit the house. Visiting friends without advanced plans (ie calling from there to say where they are is ok). Doing homework at friend’s house. Having seconds at dinner. Going into the kitchen for a snack. Going to church… or not. Rearranging their bedroom furniture. Picking their own hair style, clothing,
      and earrings. Going to the park/mall/movies with friends. Taking out library books. Reading science fiction.
      Things that are obvious to those of us lucky enough to have (mostly) functional families are worth spelling out to kids who aren’t so lucky. Also explain if some of these typical things are subject to rules–keep you generally posted on where they are, follow curfew, keep up with school, etc. Let them know.
      You sound like a wonderful person and I wish all of you all the best.

  81. The next line of Precious Things is my favorite in all of rock history: “SO YOU CAN MAKE ME COME, THAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU JESUS”

    1. yessss. That line was key to me when contemplating leaving. Because so many other voices in my life wanted me to think the bringer of orgasms=THE ONE tm

      1. I never dated guys that couldn’t give me orgasms, and knew that NONE of them were ‘the one’, a concept I didn’t and don’t believe in, and most of them weren’t people I’d even WANT to be ‘the one’ even if I did, but I still hated when I had to dump them for being jerky, because 1. It is SO HARD for me to find people I ‘click’ with enough to actually date at all (thanks, atypical neurology!) and 2. I hated giving up my steady supply of good orgasms!

  82. Also, cool aunts (and uncles): I have an 8-year-old nephew, I live abroad (so I don’t see him often), and I’m significantly more well-of than my sister (his mother). I think I’m a cool enough sister, but have you any tips on how to be a cool aunt?

    1. It depends on if you want to be an ongoing-presence cool aunt, or an occasional-treat cool aunt. Both can be really important to a child, especially if your occasional-treatness is ongoing in his life. One amazing contact with a distant relative is unlikely to matter much to a child in the long run, but an amazing relative that you didn’t hear from much but who ALWAYS sent you a super cool birthday present, actually will matter to a child.

      If you want to have more regular contact, any level of regular email/skyping/phone calls etc. is fun and good for kids. It’s nice if you can make it frequent enough that you’re actually hearing about details of their life, and not just getting the occasional generic update about how school is fine. The details of your home life are probably just different enough from your nephew’s that simply checking in and giving him a Skype tour of your garden, or showing him how you are making a craft or preparing a baked good, might be interesting to him. Or Skype him from a local restaurant that serves a really different cuisine than he sees at home.

      If you’re not up for that, kids like mail. An occasional funny or interesting card that you picked out with care for his personality and interests is fun and cool. If he likes stickers or collectible cards, you could include a few in your letter. Or a piece of penny candy. It doesn’t have to be a big gift, just a little fun surprise. I used to pick up some small thing when I would travel, and mail a little package to my relatives. Like two cool seashells that I found, or a cute little ceramic.

      Speaking of which, if he’s read the Flat Stanley books, have him color a Flat Nephew of himself and send it to you. Take some photos and chronicle Flat Nephew’s adventures visiting you.

      Finally, some of my fondest memories are of relatives that I only saw once every few years, but they would visit for a week and do special activities with me sometimes. Time passes more quickly for adults than for kids, so if you’re able to, don’t put off those in-person visits.

    2. My cool aunt gave us magazine subscriptions from 4 years old through college and was happy to update as our choices changed. She now does the same for my kids. Might sound small, but it was a majorly educational and fun gift.

    3. Mail! Postcards from travels, magazines, books/small gifts from your travels, that you think he’d like or find funny.

      Knowing that you “talk to” someone in an “exotic” place (ie., takes a plane to get there) is cool. Especially when the inevitable geography assignment arrives to send a journal around to get people in distant parts to tell you about where they live.
      I am auntie to my friend’s daughter on the other side of the country, and if I was cool when she heard from California, the cool factor could not be contained when she started getting postcards from my friends around the world.

      Pay attention to what he likes and tailor gifts accordingly. My aunt knew I liked books, animals, and art and always gave me books that challenged my reading level and had lots of pictures. Who would give a 10 year old a book of Audubon prints? A supercool aunt who knew the little nerdling would be flattered by receiving such a “grown up” book.

  83. Q11: new guardians of teen. Good for you! How kind of you to open your home! I’ve had young people and occasionally teens live with me short term due to their family situations. If she’s a bit shy: board games? Jenga, scrabble? I call this ‘drive by’ talking. When I first got my younger kid, it was tough to talk much, but focusing on something else, a game or looking at a magazine together, etc, can help facilitate the communication process, for both light and more serious stuff, if they aren’t forced to sit and make eye contact. To some kids that is torture. You’re thinking hey were talking they’re thinking how fast can I run up the stairs and get to my room? Just give it time, include activities where there is room to talk or not, where there’s talking but it’s focused on ‘if you take that tile out the tower will fall, tee hee!’ And things might get a little easier. Also I externalized. Movies are a good way to comment on your opinions on humans and boundaries and so many things, without making it the dreaded ‘lesson’. Wow it’s sad that girl went on a date with him after he spent the whole half of the first movie negging her! And then let it go. I’m sure you’re not doing this bc your letter sounds very even and boundaried, but try and resist the urge to lecture her on ‘what’s wrong with parents’. She already knows. More than you can imagine. And while it’s tough to navigate those feelings, getting lectured about the fam points her out as ‘kid from weird home’ when she wants to be ‘kid, full stop’ most likely. Mostly treat her with kindness, model good boundaries and you can be the example of something she may not get a lot of: a loving home where the love doesn’t come with strings. Gosh best of luck to you!!

  84. Q12: One of the best lessons I ever learned was from my time as a calculus-and-many-other-things tutor in a walk-in tutoring center. The manager of the place regularly reminded us that if a student requesting help seemed like they hadn’t even read their material, we should send them on their way until they had done so, and she offered suggestions on what to say and how.

    I got a lot of practice at it.

    I don’t have any tolerance for would-be sexual partners who haven’t done their homework. Anybody who isn’t clearly up on the obvious basics of how to be careful and considerate of the other person, including a closely-read knowledge of how not to irritate or hurt their sensitive bits, needs to go do their reading as far as I’m concerned.

    It’s not like there’s a shortage of material out there, these days.

    I remember getting into a strange argument online with another woman a few years back who couldn’t wrap her mind around my assertion that how I learned to do handjobs was from reading the relevant chapter in a highly-recommended book. She kept insisting that she found that too embarrassing to contemplate doing. I said I found it deeply and painfully embarrassing at the time, but that was superseded by my not wanting to risk hurting another person’s sensitive bits.

    There was a fundamental difference of opinion there — she thought pain during sexytimes from clueless fumbling should just be accepted, because having to educate ONESELF instead of hoping to be educated by one’s partner was just too terrible to contemplate.

    I’m firmly of the opinion that fumbling about and hurting one’s partner out of ignorance that any adult with an internet connection can readily correct is inexcusable and anyone who wants to risk that isn’t grown up enough to be having sexytimes. (This included me deciding *I* wasn’t grown up enough to be having certain kinds of sexytimes until I got over any qualms about self-education.)

    So, on Q12, has the guy done his homework? It sounds like the answer is likely “no”. So then you have to decide how much of a teacher you want to be — if that sounds fun for you, go for it, but remember that if you take on the teacher role, he’s likely to decide all responsibility for a good time for both people rests on you, and you may well run into him both hurting you and blaming you for it.

    1. Yes, he should do his homework, and some of that can be done online, but there’s enough difference in how people like to kiss/be kissed that the “homework” involves some combination of asking your partners how they like to be kissed, and volunteering what you like. There’s a range of preferences there, and I’ve had the experience of finding that the kind of kisses that partner B doesn’t like the kind of kisses that partner A and I are both enthusiastic about.

      The only way I was going to find that out was from partner B: you don’t go looking for “better ways to kiss” if you know that you and the partner you started kissing that way are both enjoying it, because the other person has said so.

      1. Well of course you have to talk to your partner. That’s a given.

        After you do your homework FIRST. So that you can bring enough to the table to be worth talking to.

        If he doesn’t know some basic things like “people generally don’t like bonking teeth” and “you may think slobbering all over a girl’s face is fun, but most women hate that with the fire of a thousand suns” and “avoid bonking noses” and “whatever you do, don’t cut off her air supply”, then he hasn’t done his homework enough to even be worth talking to.

        1. And how do you know any of those things even apply? My husband isn’t a good kisser, he just *isn’t*, and he does none of those things, or anything else I could instruct him on to make it better. It doesn’t affect the other parts of our sex life (which are GREAT), so it doesn’t actually matter to me that much.
          I’m also a person who self instructed herself all about sex, because I was precocious and had an insatiable curiosity about *everything*, by the time I was a freshman in high school I was a walking encyclopedia on everything from the clinical to the salacious, and educating my friends on birth control, dispelling myths, describing techniques…in an era long before the internet. And I still find your comment rubbing me the wrong way. There are countless reasons why people of any gender can be ignorant of sexual facts or techniques even now, and to paint them all with the same brush as “inexcusable” is hugely unfair. And to say someone who is ignorant about sex isn’t even worth talking to? Wow…

  85. Q11- If no one has mentioned this yet : if she’s assigned female at birth, get her to a gynecologist. One of the best things my parents did.

    1. Maybe ask her if she *wants* to visit a gynecologist. We push women and girls to doctors offices a lot more than boys and men in our culture, which reinforces ideas about women not owning controlling their own bodies, especially their bits.

  86. Q6: I recently had this same mini-confrontation with my father, where I told him that I expected him to ask me questions instead of giving me orders. Our relationship is iffy and, I’m not gonna lie, it made it awkward for a bit. But it went back to normal in a couple of weeks.

  87. Q6: With parents trying to throw their weight around, the more firm you are about shutting them down now increases the chances of having a decent relationship long-term. Every little bit of rudeness you tolerate becomes added to what they consider the status quo of how they should get to treat you. And then they escalate.

    Refusing to tolerate rudeness saves things for everybody in these situations. They understand basic adult civility just fine, so when they withhold it from you, it’s on purpose and it’s just a power trip. Treat them like toddlers when they act this way — consequences and time-outs. The sooner you do that, the more likely they’ll settle down and stop acting like babies.

    1. Not everyone who is occasionally rude is a narcissist or bully that needs to be treated “like toddlers”…once again, just WOW…

  88. Q10 is chilling and important. One student being harassed out of class by another student is unacceptable. If Twitterfriend was a convicted child killer released from prison who was hounded from class, it would be unacceptable. The University as a whole must not allow it.

    Meeting privately with the professor is a kind and sensible way to stop the harassment. The outcome I would want to see is that the other students are censured and she goes back to class with confidence and without penalty. If there is anything right the professor will ensure that this happens.

    It bothers me that Twitterfriend was more comfortable leaving class than calling out the bad actors It would be excellent if, during college, she learned both her area of focus and that no-one has the right to chase her away. I hope she joins some groups around whatever thing she was taunted about and checks in with the student assistance services to see what else might be available to her.

    And now, I will take a moment to imagine Twitterfriend striding into class ready to kick ass and take notes.

  89. Q10 is chilling and important. One student being harassed out of class by another student is unacceptable. If Twitterfriend was a convicted child killer released from prison who was hounded from class, it would be unacceptable. The University as a whole must not allow it.

    Meeting privately with the professor is a kind and sensible way to stop the harassment. The outcome I would want to see is that the other students are censured and she goes back to class with confidence and without penalty. If there is anything right the professor will ensure that this happens.

    It bothers me that Twitterfriend was more comfortable leaving class than calling out the bad actors It would be excellent if, during college, she learned both her area of focus and that no-one has the right to chase her away. I hope she joins some groups around whatever thing she was taunted about and checks in with the student assistance services to see what else might be available to her.

    And now, I will take a moment to imagine Twitterfriend striding into class ready to kick ass and take notes.

    1. Twitterfriend’s life experience has probably taught her that she’ll be worse off if she reports it. Because that would often be the case.

      The odds of her professor being some dude who will jocularly tell her that the harasser undoubtedly just likes her because she’s such a pretty/nice young woman are still pretty high.

  90. Q14: If he’s the boomeranging type and you don’t mind acerbic. acoustic woman-focused folk, “Where’s the Milk?” by Uncle Bonsai.

  91. Q11 – It probably depends on her age, but transferring legal guardianship to another adult/set of adults may not be the only option. Legal emancipation can be a solution in some situations, and it doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be able to continue living with you or be a part of your family. It just means she’d have the authority to make her own decisions.

  92. LW4 : I have a large midwestern family of many aunts and uncles (and great-aunts and great-uncles), who have an unspoken policy that family help each other and don’t owe each other anything. Unless you are the person being helped, and the help is in the form of people buying you things, in which case it is expected that you will make an attempt to pay some of it back in order to allow the other person to assure you that you definitely don’t need to.

    Your family may or may not work that way! And you’ve already gotten plenty of great advice on non-financial ways to let them know they’re appreciated and that the relationship doesn’t depend on them giving you financial help.

    But if you want some specific monetary ideas (to help with your guilt feelings, mostly), here’s two things that happen in my family:

    The first one I recommend and use whenever this comes up anywhere: if you think someone is going to insist on paying for the meal, bring cash in small bills when you go out to a restaurant, and as soon as they grab the check, tell them if they get the check, they have to at least let you cover the tip. Have cash already out on the table when you say this. I have almost never had anyone try to push back about this, no matter how different our finances, and it lets them be generous while still letting you feel like you’re contributing. (Unless they take you to a place where even the tip is enough to hurt your budget, in which case they’re signalling that this is all about them treating you, and you let them pay it all and don’t feel guilty.)

    The second one is much sillier and I only do with people I know I have a rock-solid relationship with, because it could be taken the wrong way by the wrong person, but if they have done something more than just buying a restaurant meal – like covering all the gas and driving on a long road trip, or letting you live in their house and eat their food for a week – what we do is offer to pay them “for at least my share of the food/gas/whatever!” and then when they ritually refuse, you hide a couple of $20 bills in their house or car where they will find it the next day, after you have gone home and it is too late to make you take it back. (under the electric kettle/coffeepot is a classic in my family.) This only works if you can make it into a game – part of what is does is signal to everybody involved that nobody is taking the “paying back” seriously, so it has to be at least mostly true that nobody *is* taking it seriously, so it really depends on the dynamic you already have established!

    But it can be fun in its own right if you get it going – I think my mom and one of my uncles traded the exact same $40 back and forth in increasingly difficult hiding places on every visit for about ten years as a very Midwestern way of saying “I love you.”

  93. Oh gosh, I’m an adjunct prof and dealt with something like Q10’s situation already this semester, and I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong had a student not let me know. I know it may not be easy, but your friend needs to speak up ASAP in order to protect her education – the semester is half over already.

    The students making the comments are very likely in violation of her school’s code of conduct, and this should be taken seriously by the school. The professor is the most obvious place to start, but if your friend is uncomfortable talking to them for whatever reason, she should search her school’s website to see if they have a behavioral intervention or behavioral health committee.The two-year schools (community colleges) I work with both have them, and a quick online search shows that this is pretty common, so I bet her school has something similar. The purpose of these groups is, as their name suggests, to deal with behavioral issues or other “concerning behavior”, from actions directed outward (such as bigoted comments) to actions that suggest the student may be harming or in danger of harming themselves. The groups work to get the student(s) exhibiting the disruptive behaviors needed help without escalating directly to the Dean’s office/code of conduct hearings, but they can escalate as needed. In my institutions, professors and students alike can contact the behavioral intervention committee with a complaint or concern; the team can then work with students (those having trouble and those affected by it) and/or with professors as needed to ensure that they know how to manage any issues arising in their classrooms.

    I know that even when people have been treated horribly they often don’t want to “get people into trouble,” so working with behavioral intervention committees has that positive one-two punch of being a softer touch than going right to a Dean as well as being more anonymous and offering a buffer between student and professor.

    Your friend should be aware, too, that if she goes to the prof, they may not know quite what to do at first, especially if they’re new or adjunct. But if theyr’e worth their salt (and doing their job), they should be ready to find out what their options are ASAP.

    My situation: had a student in one of my labs who was a loudmouth and a boundary-pusher, but seemed to be a standard-issue really annoying student who didn’t realize that their classmates were nearly rolling their eyes out of their heads every time Loudmouth spoke. After our second class meeting, another student approached me and said that Loudmouth was also making homophobic comments. I thanked the student for letting me know, assured them that it was completely inappropriate and they were right to tell me, and to flag me down if it happened again and I would deal with it.

    And then I fired up my e-mail and sent a semi-panicked missive to a full-time prof I work well with and said “WHAT THE HECK DO I DO?!?!”

    FT prof responded promptly and we had an extensive phone conversation after that, during which we decided that I would give the Dean a preliminary heads-up since this student was… something else. FT prof also clued me in to our behavioral team – I’d heard of them, seen info about them, but never really knew what they did. And I was delighted to learn about them, because it allowed me to give my students information that can empower them to act, but opened up another world of resources for me.

    Thankfully, Loudmouth ended up dropping the class, so I don’t know what escalation would look like. It was a valuable learning experience for sure though, and I’m ready to deal with things if there’s a next time.

  94. Oh, I thought of a couple more things on Q11:

    Hygeine: it’s really common for teens (even in stable homes) to neglect or push the envelope on personal & dental hygeine. Even more so if there’s depression, trauma, or neglect/poor modeling at play. Providing access to toiletries and laundry may not be enough – she may need reminders or education in this area. The more matter of fact and non-judgemental you can be, the better.

    Safety in person and online: Adult predators, bullies, and manipulative or abusive peers target young people who are experiencing chaos or disruption at home. Find out if your church or any programs & activities she’s in has an official youth-safety policy with background checks and reporting procedure for volunteers and staff. It’s not a guarantee, but it helps. Look out for signs of grooming, poor boundaries, or abuse.

    All the stable, well-adjusted teens I know have some kind of transparency/accountability arrangement with the their guardians for their phone and social media. Depending on her age and maturity level, it could be anything from following her on social media, to periodic phone checks, to parental controls on her phone that block installation of unapproved apps.

    It’s good to educate yourself and have talks with her about protecting her from cyberbullying or digital exploitation. It’s not about controlling what she does. It’s about being a backstop against people who don’t have her best interest at heart.

  95. Q14: I have a playlist not quite in that vein, but close. It includes some songs by dudes, but within my singing range and the lyrics are great to holler along to. Note to Tiny Orchid — absolutely no Tori Amos.

    First the songs sung by women:

    Too Many Fish in the Sea by the Marvelettes — this song KICKS ASS, you must hear it
    Playboy by the Marvelettes
    So What by Pink
    Goodbye to You by Scandal
    Raise your Glass by Pink
    Who Will You Run To by Heart
    If Looks Could Kill by Heart
    I Will Survive by Gloria Raynar
    I’ve Got The Music In Me
    You Ain’t So Tough by Heart
    That Don’t Impress Me Much by Shania Twain
    Barracuda by Heart
    Stronger by Britney Spears
    Really Don’t Care by Demi Lavato
    I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair — South Pacific
    9 to 5 by Dolly Parton
    Done by The Band Perry
    Bye Bye by Jo Dee Messina
    My Give a Damn’s Busted by Jo Dee Messina
    Harden My Heart by Quarterflash
    Tell Me by The Bangles
    That’s Not My Name by The Ting Tings
    Shut Up and Let Me Go by The Ting Tings
    Our Lips Are Sealed by The Go-Go’s
    Long Time Gone by the Dixie Chicks
    Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks
    Ready to Run by the Dixie Chicks
    Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benetar
    These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra
    What Have You Done For Me Lately by Janet Jackson
    King of Anything by Sara Bareilles
    Kick It Out by Heart
    Allies by Heart
    Fuck You by Lily Allen
    Caught Out There by Kelis
    Better Be Good to Me by Tina Turner
    What’s Love Got To Do With It by Tina Turner
    The Warrior by Patti Smythe
    Irreplaceable by Beyonce
    Single Ladies by Beyonce
    Roar by Katy Perry
    Bitch by Meredith Brooks — yeah, a bit problematic, but the opening lyric of “I hate the world today” works for me
    R-E-S-P-E-C-T BY Aretha Franklin
    Holding Out For a Hero by Bonnie Tyler — I found myself singing this song, from some ancient buried memory that I didn’t even know I possessed, when I was in engineering school being hit on by hundreds of dudes who made themselves utterly identical and indistinguishable from each other. There’s also a much angrier version recorded for the Vikings Season 2 soundtrack.
    Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin (or by The Commitments)
    Think by Aretha Franklin
    Nowhere To Run by Martha and the Vandellas
    Bye Bye Baby by Mary Wells — hot damn, this woman can sing
    U+Ur Hand by Pink
    His Story by TLC
    Birmingham by Amanda Marshall
    Rosie Strike Back by Roseanne Cash
    Ask Me by Amy Grant — I can’t listen to this song because it’s too grim, despite it’s theme of hope
    Independence Day by Martina McBride
    My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) by En Vogue
    You Better Run by Pat Benetar
    The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
    Bad Reputation by Joan Jett
    Armagh by the Au Pairs
    Conversation With a Cop by Fanny
    Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monae
    Boss Ass Bitch by PTAF
    I Ain’t Taking Orders From No-One by Sophie Tucker

    There are a lot of good ones, more than listed here, by Heart — those sisters know how to channel some rage, and with Ann Wilson’s soaring vocals it becomes transcendent. So here are some more:
    Heartless by Heart
    Even It Up by Heart
    Private Audition by Heart
    City’s Burning by Heart — all about #MeToo and the casting couch, but 40 years ago
    The Wolf by Heart
    Nobody Home by Heart
    There’s the Girl by Heart
    Tall, Dark, Handsome Stranger by Heart

    Songs from my list, but sung by dudes:
    Brand New Lover by Dead or Alive (really fun to dance to, and the lyrics are appropriate for when you dump a helpless type of manbaby)
    Salt in My Tears by Martin Briley (really fun to sing along to)
    Stay Home from the Shrek soundtrack
    The King of Wishful Thinking by Go West
    We’re Not Gonna Take it by Twisted Sister
    Staring at the Sun by The Offspring — the lyrics read exactly like they were written by a woman who escaped a domestic abuser type of manbaby
    I’m Still Standing by Elton John
    The Bitch is Back by Elton John
    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
    Take Me To The River — many versions out there, such as Talking Heads, The Commitments
    Another One Bites the Dust by Queen
    Attitude by The Misfits

  96. Wearing adorable costumes is the price that our pets pay for having live in servants who cater to their every whim. And those are some adorable costumes on equally adorable kittens! I keep wanting to ask, are they brother and sister? My Pan and Freyja were littermates and it has been so much fun watching them grow up together.

    Precious Things is my favorite angry woman music! It got me through the end of my first marriage and was the music I would turn to when my darling husband really pissed me off. So much so that twenty years later, he still goes a little tharn if he hears it playing. I can see the gears turning as he tries to figure out where he screwed up, the poor love. It’s almost Pavlovian.

    1. They aren’t littermates – two “leftover” kittens fostered together by the rescue who are now best buds. They are the sweetest!

  97. I hope I’m not too late! Q13 – Call the Midwife. It aired on the BBC a few years ago and you can find it on Netflix now. It’s based on the memoirs of a woman who worked as a midwife in the East End of London in the late 50’s. Camilla and Peter are basically perfect, and Shelagh and Patrick are pretty amazing too. And in the 50’s, no less! Also a great show in general, with a cast of mostly women.

  98. Q2: I share your pain. Let me clarify. I’m white, male, heterosexual, and just now re-entering the dating scene after a 20 year relationship (and, thank you to the Captain and commentariat! This blog and its denizens helped sooooooooooo much when I was going through the break-up and recovery! I read the whole of Captain Awkward from start to finish).

    I’ve been on Match dot com now for all of a week. If women would indicate “feminist,” that’d be a big help! That’s solid advice. The Captain is right that quality, not quantity, is what’s important.

    What drives me up the wall is how many women on Match identify as “middle of the road.” They are interesting, nerdy, smart, successful, …. ah, but … “middle of the road” politically? How can that be possible?

    “Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Brett Kavanaugh, no strong preference.” “People who champion reproductive freedom versus people who tell me my only worth is as a vehicle for children, and force me to carry said children; eh, either one is fine.” “Liberalism (i.e. the belief in liberty and equality) versus fascism (dictatorial power and the forced suppression of opposition), whatever.” “‘I find your mind captivating’ versus ‘grab em by the ____’, it’s all good.” WTF? I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area! And so many women are planting their political flag in the “middle of the road.” I just don’t know how to process that.

    So, any dating tips for a fire-breathing, FDR-type liberal male, just now reentering the dating scene? Because, good lord, the apathy! I don’t want to date apathy!

    And, yes, we are out there. We don’t get the press attention, but we are here! And we are pushing back! Promise.

    1. Put it in your profile and let women self-select out. “My political views are X and I’m looking for a partner who is also in favour of this position” essentially.

    2. [i]fire-breathing, FDR-type liberal male[/i]
      [i]I don’t want to date apathy![/i]

      Both of these are really good statements – write something along those lines, and good luck!

  99. To lovely questioner #11, I highly highly recommend the facebook group “Respectful Parenting: Teens & Tweens” run by Robin Einzig. Robin’s parenting approach is about treating ALL children like people, and trying to make decisions with them rather than control them. I personally wish all types of parent relationships were based around the philosophy of, “we are all people here, trying our best to live together, even though some are older and some are younger,” but it’s a philosophy that seems especially pertinent to adoptive, step, or foster parents, because nothing brings to light so strongly that a parent’s power largely operates through the social contract than parenting within a variant of the typical contract (and as such, the group has many of these types of parents). I think parenting a child who chooses to live with you is an amazing gift, in that it lets you see your job with so much more clarity–to provide safety and shelter together with guidance and emotional support. I’ve seen multiple posts there from people in a similar situation to yours (e.g., “We’re fostering a 15 year old–what do we do if he’s, like, a jerk sometimes?”), so I think it could be a helpful community for you!

  100. Re: Q14, I offer up the following:

    1. Brand New Bitch by Anjulie
    2. If Looks Could Kill by Heart

  101. Hey Capn, I sure hope you get a dual-photo frame and put those kitty pics in, complete with the Resignation/Betrayal captions. It’s just perfect.

  102. @Clarry @lilisonna I’m with lilisonna here. Obviously, if it was someone I knew super well, it’s a different story, but on a first-time visit to someone’s house? I’d be very anxious that I’d break something.

    The part of my mother who lives in my brain is also just sort of uncomfortable with assuming all guests want to/are able to help clean. If I invite people to my home, I don’t assume they are also coming to clear or wash dishes. It’s one thing if they offer (though, yeah, I’m probably in the camp that would decline the help barring family-level familiarity), but to just trot everyone into my kitchen and inform them how I like things done is not a thing I would *ever* do. Caveat that social norms are mostly fake and unwritten and to each their own, and all that, but I know for a fact my mother would think that kind of behavior was horribly rude and so, out of fear of offending anyone else who thought similarly, I would never do it.

    I’m sort of intrigued by how much my shoulders went up to my ears on this one–perhaps something I should unpack for myself–but I have noticed this trend when it comes to weddings. I’m a millennial and now all wedding invites seem to also come with the assumption you will help set up/break down the event, even if you are not in the wedding party. I don’t mind the task–I do mind not being asked about it in advance. I guess whether it’s dishes or folding chairs I’d like a heads up in advance that I’m expected to do it, if only so I can bring proper footwear.

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