DEAR AMY: I’m pregnant and am lucky to have several supportive friends. Some of these friends are unable to have children of their own for various reasons: One of my best friends is gay, one is unable to have children for medical reasons and some have been trying, but are unable to have children. Having previously had a miscarriage, I understand that it can sometimes be hurtful to see other people having children when one can’t (or thinks they may not be able to). Is there anything I can do or say to express my sympathy? How can I let them know that I’d welcome them to be a part of my child’s life? (Saying, “Please feel free to borrow my baby” seems more like a selfish request for baby-sitting.) Any suggestions?
DEAR EXPECTANT: First of all, gay women and men can bear children. So, at least in the case of that particular friend, you could assume that if they wanted to have a baby, they would.
People who have been through the pain of miscarriage or are struggling with ongoing fertility issues react to pregnancy along a wide spectrum: Some remain goo-goo for babies, while others find it extremely painful to be around pregnancy and babies.
When someone has suffered a miscarriage, I do think it is helpful if you can say, “I went through that, too. And I’m so very sorry.” Leave the door open if they want to cry, talk or ask questions.
Do not say, “You know, miscarriages are really common. Something like a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. . . . I had one myself and bounced right back!”
Years ago when my first pregnancy miscarried, I was shocked when some people acted like it was no big deal. Because it was, at least to me.
Make sure your friends who are struggling hear this from you: “I’m in your corner. You can be as involved or uninvolved in my pregnancy as you want to be. And once this child is born, I hope you’ll help me to raise her.”
Children benefit from the close and loving friendships of their parents. Parenting is much more fun when you’re part of a tribe.
DEAR AMY: My daughter is getting married this month. My sister wants her ex-husband invited to the wedding, as they remain cordial. However, my daughter has no meaningful relationship with this man and does not want to add him to her very selective guest list. She has had to exclude many of her friends in order to include family members from both sides. She feels that her aunt’s ex-husband is not a person she cares to share her special day with. What do you say?
Worried About Wedding
DEAR WORRIED: It is not your daughter’s job to help her aunt maintain a cordial relationship with her ex-husband. You don’t outline what the relationship with this former uncle was like before the marriage ended, but unless your daughter enjoyed an especially close and fulfilling relationship with him over the course of her life, he need not be included now.
It sounds as if your sister doesn’t want to attend this wedding by herself. You should reassure her that she will have a good time, even if she goes solo. Just don’t consign her to the “kids’ table.”
DEAR AMY: I was at a wedding reception recently where female guests removed their shoes and continued to dance barefoot all evening. I am personally creeped out by this and suspect that there could be foot injuries from stray dumped beverages or broken glass. Please address this issue somehow and encourage young guests to not do this. Spare shoes? I am aware of one mother of the bride who bought a bucketful of flip-flops for guests to borrow and wear!
DEAR CONCERNED: I danced barefoot at my own wedding. But now that you bring this up, I realize that, though going barefoot anywhere is risky, this is especially true at an event where guests are drinking and may be wearing stilettos. But people do a lot of risky things at weddings. Accidents definitely happen.
And it’s a true fact that we cannot protect ourselves — or others — from every dumb choice we make. I like the idea of bringing spare shoes and/or providing flip-flops, but if women want to liberate themselves of their uncomfortable footwear during the dancing portion of a wedding, I say, more power to them.