DEAR AMY: I had a baby daughter four months ago. My in-laws called three days before Christmas to tell us that they all had colds, but insisted that we come over anyway because the entire family would be there. My pediatrician said that the baby is fine to go out in public at her age, and we have been in many public places and attended large family gatherings. But our doctor also said that until she is 6 months old, she could get much sicker than an adult would from the viruses that cause the common cold. When I expressed my concerns, I was belittled, told I was being overprotective and that the baby has to get exposed to sicknesses eventually. Amy, I do not delude myself into thinking I'm creating a germ-free bubble. I don't sanitize her world. But if my baby were to get sick after this visit, I would feel terrible. I deeply value family time, especially since this was her first Christmas. Should I have risked getting my baby sick in order to spend it with family, or should we have stayed away?
Very Cold Christmas
DEAR COLD CHRISTMAS: I don't have the expertise to weigh in on the health risks that visiting your family's holiday petri dish would pose to your baby. Your baby's pediatrician does have that expertise, and you followed this recommendation.
Most importantly, you are your baby's mother and for the next couple of decades it is your job to make decisions regarding her welfare. Making health decisions on behalf of your child is challenging, and it is the highest calling of parenthood.
Your family of in-laws has chosen to dive in and belittle you for exercising your parental judgment. I hope that their behavior was basically a non-serious, knee-jerk expression of their temporary disappointment. But ... talk about acting like a bunch of babies...!
Buck up, dear mother. As the months go by, you will become even more competent and confident. You have opportunities to learn from more experienced parents, so try to stay open to their points of view. And then continue to exercise your best judgment.
Depending on the context, push back calmly — or laugh off — these attempts to control you. You got this!
DEAR AMY: A dear friend of mine just got married. I am concerned that she does not know her new husband, "Bard's," background. He has a bad criminal past. He has been in prison for breaking and entering, drug sales and possession, felony firearm possession, and more. My husband looked him up and found out all of this. He verified that it was Bard. I am having a hard time knowing all of this and trying to be happy for my friend. I am concerned about how things will turn out for her. I don't want to see her get hurt. We have been friends for a long time. Should I tell her about this, or should I keep this to myself and see how things turn out for her? In this day and age, I can't believe she didn't look him up!
DEAR CONCERNED: For argument's sake, I'm going to assume that all of the information your husband says he has is correct (it might not be). As her friend, do you have the right to hold onto information about her husband and not share it with her?
It is of course possible that your friend already knows everything about "Bard's" past. If so, she wouldn't be the first person to choose to ignore past crimes and misdemeanors. The course of true love does occasionally run through the jailhouse.
You don't say what prompted your husband to snoop around about this man, but I suggest that you be completely honest: "This is tough to tell you, but my husband decided to do some sleuthing. He's learned some things that he thinks you should know about Bard's past..."
This will affect your friendship, but if you believe her safety is on the line, you should take that risk.
DEAR AMY: "Finding My Way" described her struggle to find affordable childcare so she could work. Her friends banded together to provide a safety net for her and her children. This took me back. When I was a newly single mom, my friends stepped up in so many ways. I am teary with gratitude.
DEAR GRATEFUL: Informal networks of women (family and friends) are the solution to so many childcare challenges. I too, am teary with gratitude.