While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On dropping weight … as a topic. Please:
Early in our marriage, my husband told me, “Nothing ruins a meal more than calorie talk.”
This was always a huge part of the dinner table conversation growing up. It was difficult, but I learned to stop it.
Another thing we agreed to was never commenting or complaining about each other’s weight or condition. Nobody knows they’re fat and flabby like the one who is.
Happy in Indiana
On the nosy questions you get when your family isn’t one color:
My wife and I adopted a child of a different race who is now grown up and married. Our social worker cautioned us that we would be on display as a multiracial family and coached us on how to respond to questions and comments. She correctly predicted that we would be approached in public places, most often when it was only one of us (usually my wife) with our daughter. Very often the question was: “Is your husband of a different race?” or “Is your child adopted?” or even worse, “Is that your real daughter?”
The first answer was always, “Our daughter is adopted.” In almost every case the question was either out of surprise or because the other person knew a family member or friend who was considering or in the process of an international adoption. This sometimes led to a short conversation with questions about the adoption process or seeking reassurance that it works out well. These were short friendly conversations and we learned to appreciate that sometimes people had good intentions, but just didn’t know how to start a conversation.
Over 30 years, my wife and I are hard pressed to remember more than a couple of interactions where the other party was disapproving or insulting. We learned that (willing or not) we are ambassadors for being a multiracial family and believe that more often than not our brief conversations helped others.
I learned this important truth the hard way.
I was a corporate attorney for a Fortune 500 company for 20 years. After enduring much bullying, I eventually learned: Just because someone asks you a question does not mean you have to answer it.
I have tried to instill this truth in our children (one of whom is of a different race).
When someone asks me an inappropriate question, I simply do not reply.
I just stand there looking at them. And I am a short gray-haired woman, not some big burly guy.
Quickly they become uncomfortable and change the subject.
The best response to rudeness is no response, which immediately causes the questioner to feel frustration because they have failed in their attempt to be nosy, rude and bullying.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.