Carolyn Hax: Advice

Carolyn Hax: Every child can be ‘my baby’

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On stepping on parental toes by calling a grandchild “my baby”:

When I was 4, my little sister was diagnosed as autistic. As you might imagine, my parents were distressed with the news. Or, as my mom tells it, “I wouldn’t have freaked out so bad if the world HAD been ending.”

But my paternal grandfather had a way with words, and told them, “You’re scared, but you’re not alone. She’s my daughter, too.”

Twenty years later, and my parents still tell that story, and still retreat to that memory when they’re sad or scared. It’s quite a legacy for my grandfather to leave.

Yes We Can Share

I’ve also upset my daughter-in-laws (as well as my daughters) by saying “my baby.” When hit with the inevitable “It’s not your baby,” I respond with, “Of COURSE that’s my baby. Just as much as YOU are, my little (insert silly nickname here)!”

Amazing things happen during that exchange. Mom stops feeling threatened, “Granny” lets Mom know she will always be there and Mom realizes that Granny loves her just as much as she does the baby.

Mothers-in-law have a bad reputation because too few reach out in love to their daughters-in-law.

Happy Granny

I would like to suggest a solution — or detente — to the tensions over who gets to call a newborn “my baby.” Ultimately, I think we can look to the kids for an answer. Children remind us every day with their quips, style and idiosyncrasies that they belong to no one but themselves.


On facing a traumatic move for a spouse’s job:

When my husband and I first married, his job was in a tiny town in eastern Montana, hours from any place on a map. I told him I’d hang in there for one year and then we’d need to move on. Three years later, I was the one crying when my husband wanted to move up to a bigger company. That town was full of amazing people and characters with amazing stories who knew how to create their own entertainment and take care of each other.


On having a combative partner:

My husband and I have been married 25 years and during our first year of marriage I picked fights to keep from having to attend weddings, graduations, etc. I finally realized I wasn’t angry at my husband — I was panicked about the event and subconsciously took it out on him because he was the reason that I was backed into an uncomfortable situation. I went to a counselor and figured out how to deal with the anxiety, and my husband is really great about giving me space to opt out if necessary!

No More Fits

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon at 10 a.m. each Friday at