DEAR AMY: My wife and I adopted a brother and sister from Ethiopia in 2011. We were a Caucasian family of four, and the addition of two African children blended nicely. There have been no real behavioral or attachment issues with our Ethiopian children, and it feels like they have been with us forever. Skin color has never been an issue for us, and living in California, our blended family has not been an issue with anyone. My son is now 15 and really enjoys rap music. I have a huge issue with the majority of the lyrics, which are most often filled with words that are demeaning to women, and are explicit, sexual and sometimes downright pornographic. I have spoken to my son about how these songs are disrespectful to women and how these kinds of lyrics can desensitize him. Nobody in our family has ever listened to rap music, but he has connected with it because of his ethnicity. Our family does not use this type of language, so I am surprised these lyrics are something he would choose to sing along with. He says he just likes it. His phone has a filter to block explicit content, but he has found ways around it. I don't want him to think I am an out-of-touch dad. I want him to understand there are better choices in music. There must be some "clean" rap music. Suggestions?
DEAR RAP-ATTACKED: You are an out-of-touch dad. It's OK. Hitch up your Dockers and own it.
Please, even though they are your children, do not ignore or deny your kids' race and ethnicity. Even if you live in a multiethnic area, they are made aware of their racial identity in little and large ways, every day. And at 15, it is completely appropriate for your son to explore his racial identity. He may "code switch," jumping between his two identities: a young man of color, and as a member of a majority white family.
Dads have been hating teen music since the dawn of time. Some favorite popular songs from your own youth contain lyrics that either glorify drug use or celebrate sexist or abusive attitudes.
I am aware of, and similarly appalled by, the violent and misogynist lyrics in some music, but, hey, it can't all be Taylor Swift.
For music with beat, poetry and anger — but none of the misogynist violence — check out the work of Chicago artist Common.
Be honest with your son, and also ask him to describe the appeal of the music he likes. Share your unvarnished views about the lyrics, and tell him that you don't want that language broadcast in the house, but don't police this too closely. When he says he just likes this music — believe him.
DEAR AMY: My childhood friend married this past summer. She revealed her pregnancy to me at my bridal shower about a month later (it was early, but she was excited). She and I don't talk too often, but when she told me we made plans to go shopping for baby clothes. Then, the weekend we were supposed to go shopping, she miscarried. I offered my condolences and she seemed hopeful about trying again. We haven't really talked much since. Recently, she shared a post on Facebook about infertility. I was heartbroken to see that she was struggling with this. I'm wondering if I should reach out to her again, to offer support, but I don't know what to say. What do you suggest I do and say?
Wanting to Comfort a Friend
DEAR WANTING TO COMFORT: Your friend has posted on social media, and it is appropriate to respond in a natural and nurturing way.
You say (privately, not on FB), "I saw your posting about infertility. Are you struggling with this? I want you to know that I'm in your corner, and if you ever want to talk about this, I'm here for you."
DEAR AMY: Responding to "Still Here," the singleton who wondered when people would start celebrating her life choices, I'm still here, too — and happy to be so! My parents were so cool. Long, long ago, when I was in my 30s, living happily alone, they would buy me the occasional non-wedding present — antique desk lamp, lovely summer dress, etc. They were fabulously unusual in so many ways, so ahead of their time.
Happy Claire in Oakland
DEAR HAPPY CLAIRE: You felt seen and celebrated. I love it.