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DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom gets upset every time she hears I make my son wash the dishes. She insists that it is just not a job a boy should be doing, and that only girls should wash dishes. I don’t want to raise my son to think this way, but I don’t want to be disrespectful to my mom. How should I approach her about disagreeing with her beliefs? — Boys Wash Dishes, Too
DEAR BOYS WASH DISHES, TOO: Now that you are a mom, you have to make it crystal clear to your mother that you appreciate her and all that she taught you, but now it is your turn to be the parent. Tell her that you are grateful for her guidance. Much of it you do follow, but on some points, you differ. Make it clear to her that you believe that boys should participate in household maintenance. Tell her you do not agree with her philosophy that housework should be reserved for girls. Moreover, ask her not to say such things around your child. You are the mother in his life, and your rules will be followed.
If your mother does share her beliefs with your son, which is likely, be prepared to talk to your son and let him know that you and your mom differ on certain principles of how men and women should live in the world. Point out that you love your mother, but in some instances you do not follow her guidance. Be sure to explain why so that your son doesn’t just view your divergence as defiance. One day he will likely disagree with some belief you espouse. Your actions and explanations today will serve as the backbone of his words and actions in the future.
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends recently got married, and when I went to visit her, she made me stay in a hotel instead of at her house like I always have. When I asked her about this, she said she didn’t want her husband to be tempted by me. I am offended that she looks at me as a threat, but I’m also a bit concerned that she may be in a toxic marriage if she’s worried about her husband being tempted. Am I wrong to feel offended? — Insecure BFF
DEAR INSECURE BFF: Something is going on, and you should be suspicious. Go out with your friend. In a neutral environment where her husband will not likely join you, ask her what is going on. Gently inquire about her life, including how she likes marriage and what it’s like to be in that level of relationship with her husband. Ask her why she is worried about him being “tempted” by you. Has anything happened? Why is she worried about you being in his presence?
Probe deeper. Is she happy? What does she want in life? Is she getting any of that in her marriage? Talk to her until you have a sense of what her life is like. Let her know that you are there for her if she ever needs an escape.