Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: So I am an introvert, and it has taken me years to finally accept this and allow myself to be happy alone, rather than constantly trying to appease my extroverted family with attempts to socialize that ultimately just made me feel like a wallflower.
It isn’t that I don’t like people. I just don’t enjoy big parties. I love small get-togethers with good friends, or even a person I don’t know so well, as long as there is a chance to talk without feeling overwhelmed by the numbers.
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My son is like me, but my daughter got the extrovert gene, and has more friends than hairs on her head. She seems to thrive in big crowds, and has no issues joining one and asking to play, even when she does not know them. She is still at an age in which I need to supervise her social engagements, and I often feel like the odd person out in the mother groups, who seem to know each other and can chat easily with each other while I hide behind my Kindle.
Any advice for this wallflower mother as she tries to navigate her social-butterfly daughter’s activities?
DEAR INTROVERT: My advice for any child-rearing-related problem that (1) is not dangerous, merely taxing/annoying, and (2) will eventually go away, is to give yourself permission to piece together ways to get through it. So, yeah, Kindle.
But do step away from it sometimes for limited stretches. It’ll facilitate your daughter’s deeper friendships — kids get invited many places through parents — and model for her the importance of getting out of our comfort zones. Even if she doesn’t understand it now, it’s a seed for later.
Plus, you might make a few nice connections in spite of yourself that you can turn into quiet coffee visits.
DEAR CAROLYN: I’ve just crested the mid-30s hump and I still can’t decide whether or not I want to try to have kids. My husband is equally agnostic. How do you know when you know, you know?
Bio Clock Is Ticking
DEAR TICKING: You don’t want-want kids, so just decide not to have them.
Then live with that decision for a while. See how it fits. It is, after all, the far easier decision to reverse if you change your mind.
DEAR CAROLYN: Is it unethical or cruel of me to stop paying for cigarettes for a friend who has no job and no way to fund his own habit, knowing he will have to go through withdrawal? I’ve offered to fund any “stop smoking” effort he wants to try (nicotine replacement, classes, medications, etc.). I just can’t afford to keep spending $350/month on his smoking.
Funding an Addiction
DEAR FUNDING: When you cut off his supply as you suggest, you will be giving him two choices: get smoking-cessation treatment free of charge (to him), or go cold-turkey.
If he opts for cold turkey, then that’s his choice, not your cruelty.
To my mind, the more interesting question here is whether it’s cruel or unethical to keep financing a habit that he cannot continue on his own and that correlates so highly with disability and early death.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.