While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On child-rearing, especially through difficult phases:
Rather than “teaching” children, I think parents should actually see their children as their teachers.
All of us are different and we should not expect to “know” our children; they have to teach us their strengths, and weaknesses.
Actually, parents should see their role as persevering “gold diggers” — looking for the nuggets of gold in their children’s unique personalities.
On alternatives for the bridal-shower averse:
After college and graduate school my daughter moved to a distant city, where she met her husband-to-be. Their wedding was going to take place in the city where they lived.
Her maid of honor wanted to do something to celebrate, but a bridal shower didn’t seem to be quite the thing. We hit on the idea of having an open house at our home to which were invited all the women who had been a part of the bride-to-be’s life since birth, from Sunday School teachers and Girl Scout leaders, elementary school librarians, mothers of childhood playmates, music teachers and other special teachers, childhood playmates and high school and college friends. Her aunts came, too, and the women who would become in-laws. The theme was, “Home is where your story begins.”
Some people brought gifts but others did not; they were not expected.
Our daughter flew home, people stopped in all throughout the day and she had a wonderful chance to reminisce with so many.
On being the outlaw to your in-laws, no matter how hard you try:
I was 20 when I married into a family of crazies. (Too young to know it at the time.)
You probably did what I did. You married into a family where his mom and his sister are more important than you are. Period. All you can do is accept that. If he’s a great guy and you can live with it; that’s all you can do.
Be polite and be the great person you are. Never give them any ammunition. I also suggest copious amounts of alcohol at the family dinners.
Your husband is never going to stand up to them. Sorry.
Technically the alcohol and ammunition portions of your advice are mutually exclusive, but also too entertaining to rule out on a technicality.
On knee-jerk, “You could always adopt!” suggestions:
My husband and I did adopt. After about a year of trying to conceive, we turned to adoption and brought home our precious little boy a whirlwind 10 months later.
Here’s the catch: Adopting did very little to alleviate my deep-seated yearning to conceive and carry a child. I would never, in a million years, suggest this path as an attempted “cure” to the heartbreak of infertility. It doesn’t work.
We adopted because we’ve always been called to adopt. Nothing more, nothing less. It was part of our life-plan, biological children or not. That path is separate from our painful path of infertility, which we still walk.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.