Dear Margo: In the Top 10 of Dumb Ideas

Should girls and boys be raised with different standards of safety? Margo Howard’s advice

In the Top 10 of Dumb Ideas

Dear Margo: My husband and I are expecting our first child, which is wonderful, but I am worried that our parenting styles will clash due to different upbringings. As a teenager, I had a strict curfew, didn’t drink until I went to college, couldn’t date without my mom approving the guy, etc. Hubby, on the other hand, is a youngest child, and his otherwise smart and nice parents let him run completely wild, staying out all night and going out of town to college frat parties as a high school student. Starting at age 12, he drank a ridiculous amount, showed up at school events wasted, drove drunk, smoked pot and did coke.

He agrees that if we have a girl she will be subject to the same restrictions I grew up with. But if we have a boy, he thinks we should behave as his parents did. His argument is, “Well, I turned out OK.” My take is that a lot of bad things could’ve happened, including him getting killed or killing someone, and he has friends from that era who now are complete wastoids. How do I have this conversation without implying that his parents were dumb? — Expecting

Dear Ex: Dumb? How about nuts? And did he turn out OK? Just asking. It is interesting that he’s decided that the way a child should be raised depends on the gender. Without calling his parents names, you could suggest that when he was a little boy his parents were super-permissive because maybe they were hippies? (Or maybe he was raising himself because he was the youngest?)

Do point out that his sexism goes against all time-tested childrearing advice. All kids need and thrive on fair discipline and boundaries, not just girls. (You might mention his friends, and tell him it’s a miracle he is not like them.) Let us hope you have a daughter, but if not, I hope you prevail in not letting your husband relive his wild days through a son. If you need backup, book an appointment with a kiddy shrink, and let that person be the neutral (and expert) mediator. — Margo, gender-neutrally

Lifting a Real, Live Dumbbell

Dear Margo: My husband is 13 years my junior, and up until a year ago, that did not bother me. Then I found out that he’s had numerous affairs throughout our relationship. We went to counseling and are doing well. I am still healing and want to trust him. I’m just concerned that he will cheat on me again and I won’t be any the wiser.

Well, yesterday at a graduation party, he picked up his sister-in-law. I mean he actually picked her up, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. I am positive there is nothing between them, but I did not like it and told him so. His reaction was to get angry because I “made something out of nothing.” I just don’t see what would possess a grown man to pick up another man’s wife, although he does fancy himself a weightlifter. What do you think? — Overly Sensitive?

Dear Ove: It sounds like he was weight training with a real, live dumbbell. And now I’ve got a question for you: If a woman was physically lifted off the ground, what would possess her to wrap her legs around the man’s waist? I saw this happen once, and the gesture — on the woman’s part — said to me that they had been intimate. Let us just say that this was immature and in very poor taste on the woman’s part, so I would hold her the aggressor in this particular situation. I also think that, given your history, your husband’s greeting to his sister-in-law should have been a peck on the cheek. Unfortunately, once a guy is in this particular doghouse, everything he does will be looked on with suspicion. Good luck. — Margo, restrainedly

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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96 Responses so far.

  1. avatar mmht says:

    LW#1: Your in-laws were lazy idiots. Margo’s right, its a miracle he lived to adulthood and turned out decently.

    LW#2: Seriously Margo you are blaming the s-i-l and saying she’s the aggressor while letting the husband off the hook? While I think both behaviors are inappropriate, to lay the blame on her alone for wrapping her legs around the husband is about as sexist as LW#1’s husband! The fact that the LW’s husband got incredibly defensive and angry is also a sign that something isn’t on the up and up here. How did his brother feel about this type of intimate contact between his brother and wife? I know my husband would feel incredibly uncomfortable if I did that with one of his brothers. I think both of you need to sit down with your spouses and talk about this inappropriate contact!

    • avatar blue tooth says:

      In my family, a brother who did that would probably end up with a knife in him.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      Um the SIL was wrapping her legs of her own accord. Picking a woman up in a hug is one inappropriate thing, but minor. Wrapping your legs around a man? Pure Slutism.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      Um the SIL was wrapping her legs of her own accord. Picking a woman up in a hug is one inappropriate thing, but minor. Wrapping your legs around a man? Pure Slutism.

  2. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #2 – Because he betrayed your trust, as Margo said, he will forever be under extra scrutiny.  That is the price a cheating partner must pay and must expect. The problem is and the bigger question is, do you want to go the rest of your life constantly questioning every move, glance or act on his part?

    A real man in this situation that truly loves his spouse would go that extra mile in gaining his wife’s trust and in this situation with the SIL, instead of reacting in anger would have instead apologized profusely and promised that nothing like that would happen again. I disagree with Margo, the SIL was not the aggressor, her husband was. Had he not picked her up there would not have been the “wrapping of the legs” around him. HE needs to be more understanding of the doubt he has placed in his relationship, if he can’t, I would tell this letter writer to leave. Why remain with someone in a relationship with an insensitive man? I don’t care how loving he may be in other instances.

    Letter #1 – Ugh! This conversation drives me nuts because it is such a no brainer.

    The letter writer’s parents raised her in the correct way. And before anyone points it out – I do realize in saying that I am implying there is a right and wrong way to raise a child. A child needs boundaries, needs to know there are family morals and values that must be upheld. There needs to be respect for what your parents say can and can not be done. If a parent says no sex, alcohol or drugs under the age of 18, instead of telling themselves “Oh please, everyone is doing it….” they need to have respect for what their parents say and avoid those things. This letter writer did. I did. And countless others have as well. Does it mean people like us are somehow stronger in terms of rejecting peer pressure OR does it mean we listened to our parents and had respect for what they said?    I say it is a bit of both.

    It is just irresponsible (how your husband was raised) and should not have experienced so much at such a young age. It breaks my heart to hear of young (12 years old) getting drunk… sad.  And because we all know as society involves, so too do the dangers of what can harm young people. 50 years ago when people smoked weed it was assured it was nothing more than marijuanna. Now, it is often times laced with things that could kill. A child can purchase what they think is cocaine, only to die later because it was instead rat poison.

    If I were this letter writer I would have a sit down with the father to be and stress this is a serious conversation they need to have, and stress that the child WILL be raised with boundaries. Male or female, there will be a set of family rules that will be put down.      

    • avatar Lila says:

      Belinda, very true about drug dangers. It has also been shown that alcohol consumption has a really damaging effect on young brains. For that reason alone it’s well worth keeping kids off of alcohol until they are out of their teens.

    • avatar James says:

      Marijuana is certainly stronger these days than in previous decades, but the idea that it’s commonly “laced with things that could kill” is nonsense. Cocaine, on the other hand, can’t be shipped in pure form; it has to be cut with something, and what’s added to it (fentanyl, for example) can be dangerous or even fatal.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        Truly paranoid nonsense.

        There are plenty of real dangers without having to make things up.

    • avatar martina says:

      You have to be careful about what boundaries are set because forbidden fruit tastes sweeter and thinking they know better and needing to push the boundaries is what being a teenager is all about.  I allowed my daughter to drink alcohol (in moderation at family gatherings) starting at about 15 – I am a strong believer in the forbidden fruit philosophy – and now at 18 she doesn’t drink because she doesn’t like the taste except for the occasional glass of champagne.  She has no desire to take drugs and is confident enough not to give into peer pressure.  I had no set curfew.  It was more of what are you doing and what time do you think you’ll be home and that she needs to keep in mind that she needs to be alert for work or school and she’d better not be cranky if she’s planning on being out late (boy can she be a female dog if she doesn’t get enough sleep). She was not one to be out wandering around 2 or 3a.m. Though, she sometimes doesn’t get home from the amusement park she works at until 1a.m.

      I have raised my child this way because I have seen both sides of the fence.  I saw how drastically my friend rebelled at very strict parents but then I had my little adventures when I was young and believe that is a rite of passage.   But, I knew not to take drugs and held off on sex and not because my parents told me not to but told me to be responsible about it. Saying you can’t drink, don’t do drugs, don’t have sex and have to be home by 11:00 is a red flag for them to do exactly the opposite.

      The idea of a girl being raised one way and a boy another is ridiculous and outdated.But the letter writer also needs to keep in mind that that child is not there yet and if her husband turned out OK once he has that child in his arms and his protective instincts kick in, he may realize that he doesn’t want either child to take the risks that he had.  I always thought that I would give my child the freedom I had as a teenager and when those years finally came I couldn’t.  I often wonder how my mother could have given me as much freedom as she did without worrying about me because I couldn’t.  It could very well be that as his children get older that they will bot decide to take a middle road with either a boy or a girl.

      • avatar Belinda Joy says:

        Wow Martina! What can I say?

        You need to pray to whatever God or higher power you worship that your child is still alive….your idea of raising her is so foreign to what I would ever respect, I am left stunned.

        Parents every move when raising a child is judged by that child. The lessons they learn about life come from their parents. In most towns, cities, hamlets and states in America, there are curfews for young people. Most have set curfews that by law teens must be home and/or not on the streets after 11 p.m.   For you to tell your daughter she can stay out as long as she wants, even when you know it is against the law, speaks volumes.

        In most of America it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. But for you, its okay to allow your child to drink because after all it is only a little. It makes no difference to you that you are breaking the law, because the government isn’t going to tell you how to raise your daughter…..right.

        And as you said, teens will always try to test boundaries, “that’s what being a teen is about”

        Actually it’s called the formative years for a reason. It is the important part of all our lives when we learn to put all that our parents taught us into real practice out in the world with other people. School, part time jobs, turning down drugs and alcohol – saying no to being pressured into sex. And then when we turn 18 and we are finally deemed adults by our country, we go off and live by our own terms. That is how it is suppose to work and does work for millions of people.

        What a cop out it is to hear people speak proudly of teaching their kids the law doesn’t matter, life is about doing whatever you want, whenever you want and essentially view me (your parent) as your friend first and parent 19th or 20th down the road.

        It’s sad.                    

        • avatar mmht says:

          Wow Belinda, can you see everyone from up there on your high horse? In Martina’s defense, MANY countries allow children to drink wine, in small amounts, as young as 5 y.o. Its just part of their culture. It might not be common in the U.S., but that doesn’t make it wrong. And to use the law as your reasoning is a cop out. Are you telling me that you never speed or have ever in your entire life littered, rolled a stop sign, etc?

          Martina never said she allows her daughter to get wasted every night, she said a small amount of alcohol at family gatherings only. What gives you the right to criticize how she has raised her daughter considering you have never met her daughter to decide if she’s come out ok or not. Because I”m certain your children are PERFECT in every way b/c you raised exactly to the letter of the law. Get over yourself and your judgmental attitude!

          • avatar Belinda Joy says:

            “MANY countries allow children to drink wine, in small amounts, as young as 5 y.o. Its just part of their culture. It might not be common in the U.S., but that doesn’t make it wrong.”

            Actually it does make it wrong. We don’t live in France, this is America and in America the legal age for anyone to consume alcohol is 21. Any parent that allows their child to drink alcohol is not only breaking the law, but they are also showing a lack of parenting skills. 

            As for the rest of your rant, and your assumption that everyone breaks the law once in awhile…..that speak volumes about how you think and probably live. And not in a good way.  

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            While I agree with the crux of Belinda’s statement that maturity is key for being able to participate in activities that are considered “adult,” I’ve always thought it kinda stupid that an 18 year-old is adult enough to kill for his country as a soldier or vote for President, but they can’t legally have a beer.

          • avatar mmht says:

            David, I agree with you. It all depends upon the person and their maturity level. If Martina had said that she allows her daughter to get drunk every once and awhile but only at home because she’d rather they do that at home then being out there possibly driving, then yes, I’d feel much differently about her parenting skills. But, having alcohol in small amounts at family gatherings every once in awhile is no big deal. The age of consumption of alcohol is relative to the area you live in. In the U.S. it used to be 18 y.o. in some areas and changed only within the last 30 years. What makes a 21 y.o. any more mature and capable of handling alcohol rather than an 18 y.o. is something I don’t fully understand. Especially, as David pointed out, that 18 y.o. is apparently mature enough to fight and die for our country.

            As for Belinda, it speaks volumes about your morality to make judgements on others that you have never met in your entire life, do not fully know their situations or understand their situation, and base your entire judgement on a simple comment made on a message board. I think you need to ask yourself why you feel you have the right to judge others. The only person you should be judging is yourself.

          • avatar etiennewestwind says:

            Actually, depending on the state, a sip at home may be perfectly legal so long as it´s not extended to other people´s kids.

            And teaching responsibility is not bad parenting.

          • avatar wendykh says:

            It makes the LAW wrong not the person.

        • avatar martina says:

          “Actually it’s called the formative years for a reason. It is the important part of all our lives when we learn to put all that our parents taught us into real practice out in the world with other people”.
          Belinda, this is exactly what I have done. My daughter is one of the most responsible young adults I know. She is highly regarded and respected by other adults. She is the one who, when confronted with a room full of teenagers sitting on their cell phones, goes to sit with adults to have adult conversations. Disallowing children to do anything and then throwing them out there when they are 18 and saying do as you will is irresponsible. My daughter did not, and at 18, still does not have free rein to do as she pleases. She has boundaries but they are reasonable and based on the situation. I gave her the opportunity to think about the consequences of her actions and to occasionally make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I eased her into experiences so that she would handle them responsibly when she was legally allowed. How many times have I heard of alcohol poisoning of “adults” who turned 21 because they could finally drink and then binge on their birthday. I don’t have to worry about that happening to my daughter. Boundaries need to be set but one also needs to be careful about how strict they should be.

        • avatar wendykh says:

          Wow. What’s sad is your US Centric view. Martina’s view is extremely common outside of the US where strangely most children aren’t turning into raging teen drunks and drug addicts. I’d never raise my teens in the US with their draconian puritanism. Sure we have drunks and druggies outside of the US, but nowhere near the insane order in the US. So glad I left near 20 years ago!

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Something I might point out to everyone regarding Belinda Joy and her supercilious judgment of parents: not only has she frequently attested to the fact in previous posts that she ***has no children***, and never has, but she has also made it absolutely clear on numerous occasions that she dislikes children intensely. She has also claimed quite proudly to have deliberately and actively interfered in the raising, and adult lives, of her nieces and siblings, even to the point of attempting to break up relationships SHE didn’t approve of based on her hide-bound, spinsterish ideas of what should constitute morality and proper behavior for the children of a lesser god (that would be everyone) who can’t possibly achieve her superior, self-attested, celestial status.

          I wouldn’t even try to argue with her. According to her, she’s never committed a single sin, breech of the law, mistake, or act of bad faith in her life. It’s like talking to a stone angel with a pupiless gaze.

        • avatar Lym BO says:

          I actually agree more with Martina than Belinda. Tasting a bit of alcohol isn’t going to land someone in jail, nor will be be detrimental to the child. My dad let me try it ( a tiny sip) when I was younger. I thought it was the nastiest thing ever consumed. To this day, and partly for that reason, I do not drink & never have had more than a half a glass of anything -ad then only if fruity & devoid of any alcohol taste. In the Catholic church, it is permissible, & I assume legal, for children to take communion at a young age (8?).
          My parents also trusted me & allowed me to stay out late. Usually that was watching a movie at a friends house. It ain’t no big thang! As far as curfews in most towns, teens are permitted to be out past the set curfew if they are working or returning home after work.- like Martina’s teen. Law enforcement isn’t going to pull teens over simply for curfew reasons unless they up to no good.
          I often think Belinda writes merely for entertainment value because her views are so narrow & obviously saintly they can’t be true. Who could stand to be friends or a spouse to someone so someone who thinks they are holier & more righteous than God himself?!

    • avatar Diagoras says:

      Well the part about the parents approving of every date is going too far. Parents should know who the date is, but teens need to learn how to choose their dates and they can’t do that if parents do it for them. Plus, it just turns into a power struggle and the couple ends up sneaking around. Better just to give them the tools to make good decisions.

      When my son was younger, he hung around some kids who were “bad influences” but instead of telling him who his friends should be I did two things: 1-punished him for anything he did bad 2- Gave an extra punishment for being a blind follower if it was his friend’s idea. The result? He voluntarily dropped certain friends and made new friends that did not get into trouble.

    • avatar impska says:

      I agree. You set reasonable rules. You expect some to be negotiated occasionally (off hand, I can remember negotiating curfew and dating rules). You expect some rules to be broken and come prepared with a reasonable punishment.

      You educate your child, as well – because most us broke some rules growing up, so you want your child to be prepared for the world. They need to understand the dangers of drugs, I believe in allowing children to have alcohol in moderation at home so that they understand its effects (and understand what moderation means!), there should be ongoing discussion about dating (with safe sex discussions whenever appropriate).

      And you should always know what time your child is coming home. A set curfew with a specific, unchanging time is unnecessary. But when you set the curfew for the night, your child needs to be home (or at least in contact with a good excuse!) so that you know where he/she is and that he/she is safe.

      It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this guy growing up with no rules and feeling like his son should have no rules. Maybe all of the drugs and alcohol ruined his brain. How can you not have the capacity to look back as an adult and say “I had fun as a kid, but I really had no clue how close I came to danger.” How can you not look back and see the ways your parents messed up?

      I’m glad that I’m not married to this guy, because the level of immaturity that he’s displaying is shocking. It would disgust me.

  3. avatar Priscilla L says:

    So when a male swing dancer picks up a female swing dancer and she does the splits on his waist, it means they have slept together? I think this is a silly idea.

    It’s possible that they are good friends, or that she was afraid he would drop her. I don’t think it implies sexual intimacy.

    But, I think that if her husband really wants to heal the wounds caused by his cheating, he should listen to his wife and respect that this bothered her. It wasn’t nothing to her. He should realize that his interactions with other women are a bit suspect these days, and adjust his behavior accordingly. Building trust sometimes means sacrifices.

    • avatar Carrie A says:

      Being dance partners is a completely different situation than what the LW is describing. I don’t know what kind of friends you have but a guy picking a woman up and her wrapping her legs around him as a hello sure seems pretty intimate.

    • avatar mayma says:

      Come on. Why ignore all context and insert an entirely random context? Afraid he would drop her?!?! Swing dancing?!? They weren’t swing dancing, sheesh.

      Sorry, it’s just painful to read because that’s the device that many, many deceitful and / or controlling people use — trying to make the other person feel crazy, or “silly,” or unreasonable. “It’s because I might one day go swing dancing with my brother’s wife, isn’t that obvious?! Why are you so damned suspicious all the time?” [uh, because you in fact cheated on me for years and years and now you want me to think two and two equals five?]

      This business of undermining the other’s intuition is serious stuff, ugh.

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      What does swing dancing have to do with graduation parties?  Anyway, on the context of the letter, no male I’m “just good friends” with has ever tried picking me up.  Frankly, if a mere friend were to try, I’d rather be dropped than wrap around him in a way that might inadvertantly tell him there’s something more there.  A punch or kick might help that along if they proved unable to comprehend the words put me down…

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        If you are a very short, smallish woman, odds are that men have tried to pick you up like a doll at some point in your life. I generally find this intolerable. I give them one chance. One. I politely request that they put me down. I am not a doll.

        The last time a foolish male made this mistake he was going to toss me into a pool. I warned him. My friends told him I wasn’t kidding at all. Mr. Muscles thought it was a very funny joke. I bit his bicep hard enough to leave an enormous bruise. He very gently set me down, per my instructions. No one else attempted this stunt again, nor was I considered a social pariah for it, though HE lost a lot of respect for not being a good listener.

        • avatar etiennewestwind says:

          Fortunately, I´m not that small, but good for you.  All too many would let Mr. Idiot get away with that stunt.

        • avatar bleeble says:

          I am not tiny, and guys have tried to pick me up – to flirt with me. And only to flirt with me. It’s really obnoxious, I think last time it happened I punched the guy in the neck. Heh.

      • avatar blue tooth says:

        maybe they were swing-dancing at the graduation party? 🙂

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Maybe they were daggering. It could happen. If it were MY husband, and a SIL (okay, I don’t have a SIL, but some random female), I’d have to shoot them.

          Poo tee weet

          • avatar blue tooth says:

            Daggering? I never heard that one before? What’s it mean?

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Daggering is a dance craze once primarily popular in Jamaica, but now turning up everywhere that people want to express their primitive roots, that involves what amounts to various forms of “simulated” sexual congress, with clothing, amount optional, on the dance floor, in public.

            I would politely define it as “raunchy”…and I am extremely open-minded, trust me. I would impolitely ask why would a person would want to behave as if they’d taken PCP and decided to engage in cheap, violent, frantic and frenzied, and ugly sex and call it “natural primitive dance” when it looks like rape, assault and pure attention whoring. But that’s just me.

          • avatar Lym BO says:

            THanks for the heads up! LOL!

  4. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Your husband is being completely stupid about this. Both genders need rules, guidelines, etc. What if your son wouldn’t “turn out OK”?? There are lots of “social diseases” out there, hepatitis or even HIV/AIDS through drug experimentation (not to mention sexual activity). You’d better set him straight on his moronic thinking. If you need backup on that from a health professional DO IT.

    L #2: He’s cheated on you in the past. Past behavior is indicative of future behavior. If you’re still enjoying the buzz/attention of being married to a younger man, I’d shelve that and get a divorce. You cannot have a relationship without trust. And he’s totally blown that. If he hasn’t yet nailed the sis-in-law, he very likely sure wants to … and will, if she’s game. He does this in front of you and passes it off. Here’s your coffee (wake up).

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      “…If you’re still enjoying the buzz/attention of being married to a younger man…”

      Sigh. My husband is ten (that’s right, 10, a full decade) years my junior. I did not marry him to get attention, for the “buzz” of marrying a young stud, or because I’m a cradle robber. He’s more mature and intellectually developed than ex-the-first, who was six years my senior, and we’ve been married 18 ever-evolving, increasingly passionate and joyful years. My sister’s husband is 12 years her junior, and they’ve been together an equally successful 9 years.

      Age has nothing to do with immaturity, but arrested development can certainly be a factor, as can narcissism (not the clinical sort), entitlement, and just being a wretch. My exes were respectively six years older, and eight years younger, and were both childish men with infantile, regressive, incompetent behaviors.

      If my BIL picked me up, I would first ask him politely to put me down. If that failed, I might be a bit more…firm…in my request. I would NOT wrap my legs around him. This is NOT ballroom dancing. I am a very small woman, and men tend to think it’s cute to pick small women up and dangle us. Not at all cool around SO’s unless they KNOW it’s meant as a joke, and you, the woman, keep things very light. The only man I would wrap my legs around is my husband, under any circumstances except a good tango or similar. And that’s because Rusty doesn’t dance.

    • avatar Lym BO says:

      L2- In this case, an obviously immature, younger man. Some women marry younger men so they can mother them or raise them up right. Others, like Briana, find one’s age is irrelevant. People place way too much emphasis on age. Who cares?!?! IT actually shouldn’t have even been a part of the letter unless the woman is feeling like her advanced age is making her less desirable to hubby. If that’s the case, she could work on making herself more desirable. (fit, energetic & stylish). I’m amazed by the number of women who have told me they let themselves go when they married. And what’s up with mothers who look like crap most of the time?! I have twins who are 21 months older than #3 & then another 3 years later (due on the twin’s 5th birthday) and I have never, ever looked like crap unless deathly ill. If I leave my house (even to get the mail) I always look nice. If it’s been a hard day, I still get fixed up before hubby comes home. And I never take my kids to school or the bus stop with some nasty ponytail or my hair in a cap. Then there’s clothes. Women have commented how cute I look (with disdain). I want to say”Honey, it took no more money or time for me to put on a top & skirt than it took you to put on that baggy t-shirt & sweat pants.” Sorry. I just don’t understand.

  5. avatar Koka Miri says:

    LW1: Also, super controlling and worrisome that he is thinking of a future daughter as someone to exert his will over instead of letting her thrive while setting healthy boundaries. There is so much “ew” in his mindset I don’t know where to begin. I feel really sorry for any daughter of theirs. The wife needs backup to convince her husband that he was raised by wolves and the husband has a sexist double-standard. Also, let’s hope they don’t have a boy and a girl at some point, because there’s a breeding ground for resentment and unhealthy family dynamics.

  6. avatar mayma says:

    “And did he turn out OK? Just asking. ”

    HA, HA, HA! That was a good one.

    I would be exhausted by being married to someone like LW1’s husband …. someone who requires me to justify and defend common sense, someone who favors chaos. I just don’t know if I could hang with that.

  7. avatar Pinky35 says:

    LW1: I have a similar problem with my husband. But there are two boys involved. He has a boy from a previous relationship. I came into the picture when the kid was 5. My husband was raised to be allowed to do as he pleases as a teenager, which got him into drugs and almost arrested. I was raised to do chores, have a curfew, and my parents kept me under lock and key at home most Fri/Sat evenings while my friends went out and partied. So, naturally, when it came to my husband’s son, he ended up being raised like my husband was. Of course, I have fought my husband every step of the way to get him to see reason. And my husband has reluctantly tried to enforce some rules, however the damage has already been done. The kid is now 17, flunking high school, we’ve had to drug test him a few times and we do know he drinks. Now, there is MY son, who is now 5. (Yes, I knew my husband was like this yet I still married him and had a kid with him. I really should have paid more attention to this Red Flag!) I am doing most of the raising of my son. He is the total opposite of his older brother. He does chores, is respectful, is sweet, loving, and really smart for his age. He will be brought up with some tighter reigns and rules when he is a teenager. And, my husband has already agreed to this way of upbringing because he saw first hand just how his older son has turned out. It was a wake-up call to him about how children should be raised. So, let me tell you from my own experience, your husband will be stubborn and may not see how necessary it is to have rules and boundaries, no matter if it’s a girl or a boy. I’d go to counseling now so you two can talk about how either gender will be raised and see that he understands the importance of keeping your kids out of trouble, even if it’s a boy!

    • avatar Diagoras says:

      Chores and a curfew are good, but why under lock and key on weekend nights? I let my son socialize with his friends and he is turning out great. I think a balanced approach works best.

      • avatar Pinky35 says:

        Yeah, my parents were under the impression that being a female, I shouldn’t be out every fri/sat night even though I got straight A’s, didn’t do drugs or drink, and they actually liked my friends. I wouldn’t do that to my son. But, I also don’t think he should just come and go as he pleases with no curfew at all. I agree, there is a balance.

        • avatar wendykh says:

          My parents too. I also was a great student. So when they went to bed I snuck out around midnight and went out and had sex with boys and smoked cigarettes and drank because hey those were the only activities available for a teen at those hours.

          Let the kids go out.

  8. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  I’m with Mayma…exhibit A is that your husband emphatically did NOT turn out ok…unless you consider being pathetically stupid and willing to endanger your children ok.  Anyone who thinks that excessive drinking, drugging, driving drunk is just fine behavior for anyone, let alone a teen is lucky to have lived this long.  I’m not even going into the double standard because I’m not really sure that it is in play here…he probably just threw you a bone saying you can handle the girl and he will handle the boy.  I think HE needs to be handled out the door unless he changes his thinking because if he doesn’t you have a lot of heartache ahead.  I’m also wondering if your husband has entirely left his substance abuse behind.  Seems odd that someone who has recovered from several years of substance abuse would think it is just fine for his future children to duplicate his history. 

    LW#2:  I’m thinking your counseling isn’t going as well as you think it is.  I have no idea if anything is going on with the sister-in-law…but I think the actions of both are way too familiar for a brother-in-law/sister-in-law relationship…especially since they were NOT swing dancing.  I’m with those who say that at the very least, he has absolutely no regard for your entirely justifiable reaction to his physicality with another woman.  You might want to bring this event up in your next counseling session.  Or you might just want to accept that you are married to a serial cheater and either live with it or get out.  I’m for getting out.     

  9. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: Like most parents, you’re going to discover there’s shades of gray with a daughter or a son. Your husband probably will too—that is, you’re not going to be as strict as you think, and he’s likely going to be stricter than he thinks he will be. One parent will most likely be more lax and the other will be more cautious. Be the “cruise director,” if you’re worried, and use your husband to balance you out.

    LW2: It’s much harder to erase a blackboard that has been used again and again and again, since you can still see the old things that were written on it. Especially if your husband is making a half-hearted attempt at erasing. Personally, I’d call it a day and go your separate ways—and I believe your gut will be telling you the same thing for a long time to come if you don’t. So be prepared to feel a lot of nausea if you keep the marriage going.

    • avatar mac13 says:

      Cruise director? Blackboard? Dude, you are on fire today. But I do agree. He isn’t helping her forget what he has done at all. It isn’t rocket science. No physical contact with a woman. If you do, don’t belittle her feelings.

  10. avatar VJ Dark says:

    I reread letter #1 and was very unhappy to find out they were expecting their first child. They should not become parents.

  11. avatar Artemesia says:

    both child rearing approaches were lousy; kids who are micromanaged often come out without initiative and self confidence; kids raised without standards or boundaries often have destroyed pointless lives. there are many playing video games in basements or doing drugs under bridges as we speak. strong child rearing has confident parents who allow their kids to face genuine challenges and who have high expectations and clear boundaries. it is a 3 bears issue — not to rigid, not to lax. I hope these people don’t consider having kids till he grows up and she learns more about raising kids. they both have poor role models to rely on and he is a child.

    and the older woman should realize this ship has sailed. her husband is a slut and will continue to be and all the ‘talks’ in the world are not going to have an impact on that. she needs to secure herself financially and have an exit strategy which she can put into place with his next affair if that is what it takes. of course he messes with the SIL or will be or would like to be.

    nagging and supervising — not a winning wifely role; if she needs to do that, she needs to move on. this guy obviously is a loser as a husband.

    • avatar Diagoras says:

      I agree. When kids are teens they should be considered apprentice-adults or adults-in-training. They should have increasingly both more responsibilities and more freedoms than when they were 12. We need to teach them independence and we can’t do that by either 1-not giving any instructions/guidance or 2-not letting them make any decisions on their own.

    • avatar mayma says:

      “nagging and supervising — not a winning wifely role…”

      Seems to apply to both LWs, doesn’t it?

    • avatar bleeble says:

      Did you just equate playing video games with doing drugs under a bridge?

  12. avatar mac13 says:

    LW1. Your husband’s level of maturity is about that of a 16 year old. How have you managed to put up with him. This can’t be his only weird idea. Read the writing on the wall. If he thinks all that he did is ok, and will be ok for his son, he is still using and abusing drugs and alcohol. Trust me. He is. If he doesn’t think it is bad, why would he quit.

    • avatar Sita says:

      My thought exactly.

    • avatar martina says:

      This is not always true.  My husband was, what he likes to call it, a hooligan back in the Soviet Union.  He drank, did drugs, caused trouble and gave it all up in his early 20’s because he knew he would never amount to anything if he continued.  I’m sure that he too, over my dead body, would have thought that if we had had a son that it would be OK for him to do the same because he would consider it just a phase the kid was going through. My husband doesn’t do drugs and drinks only occasionally now.  So, there are those who can grow up and stop. 

  13. avatar luna midden says:

    lw1-FOR REAL? Come on! Okay-if the LW was raised in a really really strict household, she might want to ‘loosen’ the ‘ropes’ on her side. I was raised by a neurotic, mentally ill.. and I could not do ANYTHING! and I behaved like a good quiet little girl. I am still in therapy to this day. My brother did every and any thing he could, once he could get away from my mother… and ended up in jail-for the 1st time when he was 17 and it just continued. No contact any more. So, tight, tight ropes, not good with most kids.

    But, okay, the very very leanient….back in the 70s, 80s… maybe you could get away with it. I think the husband is BSing on the amount of times he was drunk, high. Anyhoo…. TRY THAT IN THIS TIME PERIOD. Unless the LW and her husband are going to raise their kids in say-the worst school in a large city-where the grad rate is less than the pregnancy rate, drop out rate, etc. Then NO, LW’s potential son. sons, might get away with it once, twice, but after awhile=CPS IS GOING TO COME A CALLING! 

    2nd problem-=say this drinking, drugging -the amt, is all BS-the kid just gets away with the occaisional, and has NO CURFEW-but he has an older sister or two who has to be at 9-10pm and he/they, can come and go and return at sunrise. The family tension…..(shudder). Either the girls will be VERY VERY VERY GOOD AND LOOKING TO BE REWARDED FOR THAT. or it can go the complete opposite way…. they get very upset over the prison type home for them and they break out and do drugs, drink and are not careful, they sleep around, or just take off -FOR EVER!   

    LW2-I do not know if the SIL and hubby are having an affair, but, most are right, Margo should not be calling the SIL a dumbell. The LW is finding out what most women find out when they marry younger men-At one point they suddenly feel old. Our society just SUCKS with this. Men look ‘distinguished’ with grey-women-no, they are now- MADAM. Sucks. Maybe the SIL and Husband have a flirty thing going, maybe she was hitting on the husband. This LW does not seem to have any ‘friendly overtures’ towards her SIL-does not call her by her 1st name-so it doesn’t seem they ‘HANG TOGETHER’ So, it does seem kinda weird that all of a sudden SIL jumps up and ‘wraps her legs around her BIL’s waist’. That is, unless, LW is leaving it out that SIL ALWAYS DOES IT! LW- get therapy…helps alot… SHE NEEDS IT TO SEPARATE HIS PAST CHEATING WITH THE PRESENT -to make sure she is not banging her head over innocent things.. or these are not innocent things and her HUSBAND IS A CHEATIN’ DOG AND THE SIL IS A SL*T   

  14. avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

    If a guy picks me up, my first reaction is to squeal with delight, because I am 5’8″ and over 200 lbs. I also, on instinct, wrap my legs around him, to prevent being thrown, set down too soon, dropped, or otherwise mishandled.

    OTOH, Mr. Cheatin’ Heart shouldn’t blow off his wife’s discomfort if they want to save the marriage.

  15. avatar marykaye_s says:

    LW#2 – Your husband is currently in a physical relationship with your SIL. That is the only reason I can think of for that kind of greeting.

  16. avatar JCF4612 says:

    1) Your husband sounds like quite the booby prize, raised by a pair of boobs. Take charge of this baby early on no matter what its gender, or you’ll live to regret it.  

    2) Your spouse and your sister-in-law are a pair of dumb-bells who belong together. Get out while you can before the gym closes.

  17. avatar Carib Island Girl says:

    LW2 dump this a-hole and do it fast, and yes, he WILL cheat again.

  18. avatar Hellster says:

    Is it just me, or does it seem that no matter what the LWs write in about, Briana Baran has a degree in it, won an award for it, invented it, disposed of it, improved upon it, was once diagnosed with (and cured herself) of it, was married to it, divorced it, just plain wouldn’t stand for it, had a child/parent/employer/teacher/ with the exact same thing, and is in general the world’s greatest authority on how to deal with whatever the problem of the day happens to be? Just asking.

    That said, I hope the child itself of LW#1 will prove to be as unpredictable as most first babies, no matter the gender, and will straighten the benighted father right out.

    And I agree with Margo on the young husband who can’t be trusted. Don’t trust him.

    • avatar Deeliteful says:

      It’s just you 🙂

    • avatar Trish says:

      Hellster you better DUCK…and fast! There was a similar thought a week or 2 ago and she went absolutely nuts. She can rip you a new butt with one hand tied behind her back!

      • avatar Hellster says:

        Thanks, Trish, and Deeliteful, your comment was like your name.

        Yes, I have a sense that the ubiquitous commenter under discussion is unlikely to react by thinking to herself, “Hhhm… do I really come across that way? Is that the way I WANT to interact with people? Let me pause for a moment of introspection.”

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Actually, Hellster, if ***everything*** you and the other hens said was accurate, I might be inclined to be slightly contemplative. But so much of it is pure bovine fecal matter. And furthermore, I don’t, and never have cared how I come across to people, especially on forums like this, and especially to illiterate, ignorant children. Like you. As I’ve said before to the bloviating ignoramuses who insist on whining incessantly about me , if you don’t like my posts, don’t read them. It seems it would save YOU a great deal of angst.

          For myself, it’s just another thing to reply to, or not, then disregard. Bye now, toots.

          • avatar Lym BO says:

            If you don’t care about how you come across then why post?
            If I have anything that I feel is worthwhile to post to a LW, I simply post it then close the blog. What other bloggers have to say about my advice or experiences are not important to me.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        I was quite rational and coherent in responses to the idle morons last week, thank you, Trish. But you are correct in your assessment of my ability to deal with those suffering from such limited mental assets. I do so appreciate your recognition.

        • avatar Trish says:

          Hello Briana 🙂
          I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone who can rip as well as you can. I do know someone who thinks she can, but no, you have the top tier on that issue.
          I can’t remember who you tore into last week but omg it was quite something.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Interesting fact, Trish: at one time, this was a site that offered up all sorts of opportunities for conversation, from reasoned discourse to flaming personal attacks. I’ve been around for years, and I was originally the victim of a certain reader who still poaches the unwary for trying to help a deeply troubled woman with a terrible past. It was the first time that I had ever spoken freely about my life under any circumstances, and I was instantly viciously attacked. I wasn’t looking for affirmation, sympathy, or attention…I was only trying to help someone who was actively begging, on the thread, for help.

            My own (failed) personal nemesis, was the first person I had ever excoriated on a blog. Not long after came the 2008 presidential elections, and the regular displays of flaming against various readers who dared to show support for Obama. No rational, informed, intellectual comment was left unpunished…and the site supported the flamers. We lost far too many of the brilliant, witty, evolved readers after that debacle…and we get all of the biddies who have proliferated in the last year or so. The hens, so to speak.

            “Hens” is an excellent term for them. Chickens are dim, vicious animals who eat their own feces, and will kill each over because of a perceived spot of blood. They are virtually flightless, cluck nonsensically, flap uselessly, stink, and are much more tolerable dead than alive.

            Let me refresh your memory regarding last week’s gentle remonstrations. They were directed at toni, ilovemypillow, and Trish.

            I am not the person all of these gutless wonders think I am. And I have this thing about chickens…

    • avatar Lila says:

      This site was originally conceived as a place that women of a certain age could come and discuss substantive topics without being attacked or denigrated. It has certainly struggled with that model, and has morphed and shrunk in recent months, leaving the few old regulars basically confined to commenting on Margo’s and Liz Smith’s articles. I miss the old crowd. Briana has been around here for years and I still enjoy her stories and comments.

      I don’t see what is to be gained by picking someone out and making unpleasant remarks about them.

      • avatar LandofLove says:

        You stated that very well, Lila. Everyone’s comments on this site are equally legitimate, and the fact that any poster would discuss his/her opinion on the basis of their own experiences does not indicate that the person is “the world’s greatest authority on how to deal with whatever the problem of the day happens to be.” Let’s not stoop to the high school melodrama employed by nasty girls.

        • avatar Lila says:

          Land of Love, I was pleased to see that the WoW folks removed that whole chain of junior-high comments from last week. I hope the same happens here, and soon.

          • avatar Hellster says:

            @ Lila and Landoflove, since it was evidently my comment that initiated your replies to each other as well as to me, please let me say that I’ve re-read it, and stand by it, and it is in no way “unpleasant” or jejeune. Participants in a public forum, even those of a “certain age,” are not immune to suffering a gentle “tweaking” when their shenanigans have dominated and intimidated others for too long.

          • avatar Lila says:

            Hellster, I have re-read your original comment here, thought about it, and I do find it a bit offensive in that it consists of a long, sarcastic list of “accomplishments” that Briana has never claimed. I find it “jejeune” in that it was addressed to the general audience here, rather than a pertinent reply directly to one of the comments that seem to bother you.

            A comment about a particular person, addressed to the general crowd, is an invitation for others to pile on. A “gentle tweak” should be addressed to a particular comment as part of the conversation. I don’t perceive this as a gentle tweak.

          • avatar Hellster says:

            Then you have a very feeble, perhaps nonexistent,
             sense of humor.

          • avatar Lila says:

            Hellster, I’m just giving you civil feedback on how your comment came across. I note that your response is an ad hominem attack.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            They didn’t remove the whole chain, Lila. Just my rejoinders. Typical. The usual business. They’ve been trying to get rid of my contentious curmudgeonly self for years. Nothing to see.

            I have been told I am an oppositional sort, so perhaps that’s why I stick around. Thanks for the support from you and LandofLove.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I only have a high school diploma, I’ve never claimed to have invented anything, I’ve gotten three awards in my life for fine arts, one for creative writing, and a few ribbons back in the day for showing horses (sum tally of “awards”, dear), I don’t know if I’ve ever improved on anything, I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist and therapist for years (which rather negates your claims that I cured myself of my illnesses…which can’t be cured, you ignoramus, only treated, and which are permanent diagnoses), and I’ve never claimed to be the world’s greatest authority on anything. There are many “problems” I don’t comment on, either because I have no experience with them, or because I don’t give a raggedy rat’s ass about the whiny incompetents who seem incapable of dealing with their own affairs. Neither of my husbands ever cheated on me, beat me (the first ex hit me once> Just. Once.), stalked me, tried to take my children, or any number of things, and I’ve said as much.

      You, however, appear to have nothing better to do than behave like a juvenile female canine of the most inbred and subsequently brain damaged variety. One who has no life, and little experience, and a big problem with people who actually have done some living, learned from it, and have something substantive to say. As opposed to yourself, who can only dribble out spastic oral diarrhea. And make-up specious and rather droll fantasies about what other people say because, quite obviously, you have nothing intelligent or worthwhile to contribute yourself. What thrilling observations you made about both letters today. Did it take you hours to come up with that drivel? “I agree with Margo on the young husband who can’t be trusted. Don’t trust him”. Brilliant! Mind boggling! What a keen wit you have!

      Now find something to do other than pick at other people for no good reason. This was once a site for intelligent, thinking women. Then lower life forms like you started crawling out of the shallow end of the gene pool. You’re not clever, or funny, but you are herd-bound, amusing in a dull sort of manner, and a bleak foreshadowing of times to come.

      • avatar Lym BO says:

        I definitely believe the one about creative writing!

        • avatar Lym BO says:

          Some of you might find this comical. I get Briana & Belinda mixed up. I disagree & agree with both of them at times. And they both write really, really long , multiple posts. And both get attacked frequently. No offense intended.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            All true, but I fully claim to be a member of the species homo sapiens, a mere mortal, and I actually like men, children, people in general, sex, have failed at any number of things (sometimes in multiples), have admitted on this very site that I was wrong (multiple times), am an iconoclast, and have never, despite the claims of my detractors, ever said that I was an expert on anything, that I had the right to judge anyone based on my own purity and righteousness, or that I was a paragon of virtue.

            Nor have I ever condemned anyone for their “sins”, told anyone she was a “slut”, “whore”, damned to Hell, too crazy to live, filthy, promiscuous, or looked down on anyone for past, horrible experiences. I’m no saint, and I can be a seriously heartless, merciless individual; I have low tolerance for willful ignorance, stupidity, religious fanatics and Tea Partiers and will bash hell out of people when I’m in the mood. But I am not in Belinda Joy’s league.

            I’d pass out from the lack of oxygen up there.

          • avatar Lila says:

            And you have a purple buzz cut and Fluevogs. I like Fluevogs too, but they don’t make my size, damn them.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            You must wear a US 4 or 5. Fluevog really should make the smaller sizes…so much fun. I changed the buzz to peacock blue recently, just to see if I could. Also acquired a used, but excellent vintage pair of Dr. Martens ten-eye bi-colored red and black steel/cap toed boots. With the extra thick soles. Yum.

            That’s the Fashion News from The Center of Irreverent Chaos. No applause, no money.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          At least I ***can*** write. I can even use Spell-Check. And Big Words. Naturally. Coherently.

          • avatar Hellster says:

            I guess I struck a nerve. And, while I’m at it, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            See all of my comments, hellster. Then you’ll understand. If your intellect allows it, which, considering your resemblance to a noxious bacterium in a petri dish (I DID already point this out, thank you), I rather doubt.

            Like I said, it’s always interesting to read the responses from the wet hen flock, on about the same level as it is to watch cultures grow in lab experiments. Mostly, I get organisms that stink, are toxic, and are essentially useless.

            I don’t take it personally, it’s just entertainment. Every court once had its fools. Thanks for filling the position.

          • avatar Hellster says:

            BB, as directed, I looked at all your comments on this thread, and all I understood was all I have ever understood of your comments, which, I suppose, is all one needs to know about you, as a commentator or a human being. I’ve noticed your remarks here for years. They never change. You are a paragon of consistency. I visualize you having to scrape the flecks of dried spittle off the monitor screen every few seconds, your comments are so hysterically vitriolic. Anyone who dares to exist below your Olympian standard and dares ask for help, or who disagrees with you is treated to a diatribe that can only come from a mind that is, although intelligent, rather dangerously unhinged. (When confronted with a sesquipedalian lunatic, I believe it’s more vital to pay attention to the “lunatic” than to the fact that she is sesquipedalian.)

            Letter Writers (and who knows what compels people to write to “Agony Aunts” like Margo) with requests for assistance with life’s more desperate problems, have one thing they must all share — an insousciant optimism that allows them to believe that A.) their life-threatening problem will rise above the rest of the pack and catch the attention of the dispenser of the advice (which strikes me as exceedingly unlikely), and B.) that they themselves will not become objects of savaging, as so many here do. What an odd phenomenon we are all part of! 

            BB, my hat is off to you; how you have managed to hold it together for so many years is inspiring. Day after day, year after year, hour after hour on end, you sit here, commenting long– after Wowowow has ceased to function to your liking. Nevertheless, you “walk the ridge,” at great personal displeasure to yourself, all for the sake of reminding us poor, clucking hens how much better it used to be, and how you alone remain of the glory that was Wow, the grandeur that was commenting, for the benefit of anonymous “hens.”  

    • avatar chuck alien says:

      That’s because the entire planet’s problems are reflected in BB’s illnesses. She’s like a petri dish for the world’s shortcomings.

      She doesn’t say much, but boy, does she say it long and loud. There is no problem small enough to escape 7 paragraphs about her ex-husbands (those lucky jerks.)

  19. avatar Kathy says:

    LW1’s husband is simply a chauvinist.  And he’s not the only dad (or mom, for that matter) who believes boys and girls should be raised very differently.  Girls should be coddled, protected, managed.  Boys should rule their universe.  I wonder if LW1 has brothers, and if so, did they have their dates approved by mom, observe strict curfews and abstain from drinking until they went to college?  Somehow I doubt it…

  20. avatar blue tooth says:

    Re: lw2, Hate to disagree with you, Margo, but the husband was definitely the instigator in this one.

    To LW2, dump him. He has already banged his sister-in-law, doesn’t care about the pain he caused you, is still cheating on you, and will only get better at hiding his tracks while you work on trusting him. He doesn’t deserve your trust. And your couples counselor should be explaining to him that, it’s not an issue of you trusting him again, it’s an issue of him earning your trust.

    By the way, it’s not an issue of age. It’s an issue of, he doesn’t think he needs to be monogamous. He likes to keep the woman at home while he goes out to play.