Baby Care

The best from Slate’s advice this week.

Slate publishes a lot of advice each week, so we’re pulling together a selection of our favorites. Here are a few of the most compelling questions from the week and links to hours of advice reading. This week: child care, Halloween costumes, and large inheritances.

Dear Prudence

Not the Nanny: I have been married 10 years and together for 13. My stepdaughters “Gracie and Nikki” are 28 and 25 respectively. Gracie and I have a good relationship, while her sister can barely be civil towards me. As a teenager, Nikki treated me as her own personal maid, chauffeur, and chef. She had zero respect and would stomp off screaming if asked to demonstrate any. I took a lot of “walks” when she had her friends drop in without warning. There was one memorable incident where she threw a plastic glass at my head when, after she came in crying that she was hungry and needed her laundry done, I pointed at the kitchen and told her to help herself. She was 16 at the time. (And yes, both girls have been in therapy on and off since before I even met my husband.) Nikki never took anything from it, other than that I was an easier punching bag than either of her parents or her sister.

I have tried to take the high road over the sneers, insults, and sheer rudeness, but I hit my limit when Nikki got engaged. My parents both gave Gracie and Nikki over a thousand dollars for their weddings. Gracie was gracious and thanked my parents in a toast. Nikki cashed the check and didn’t bother to invite them at all. I paid my parents back and let Nikki have it. She insisted she did nothing wrong, it was a gift, and it was her special day—so there. I called her a monstrous brat and to never expect anything from me again. My husband didn’t want to go to the wedding without me but I made him go alone. I avoid being around Nikki as much as possible and it is fairly easy as we all live locally.

I am very close to Gracie and her two children. Gracie is a freelancer and her childcare needs are chaotic, while my work is very flexible. I often watch her children. Nikki has announced her pregnancy and so “graciously” offered to bury the hatchet with me—if I become her unpaid personal nanny. I would be required to drive 45 minutes to her house every day to take care of her baby. Nikki doesn’t want the baby anywhere but at her house. So hell will freeze over before I do that. My husband thinks this is an olive branch; I think it is just Nikki deciding she wants something and that she deserves it no matter what. So what should I do here?

Care and Feeding

Halloween Bully: My 9-year-old daughter is having an issue with her best friend’s family. A week ago, my daughter had a movie party at her friend’s house. Her friend’s teenage stepbrother made a bunch of “jokes” about what my daughter should be for Halloween: “You should go as a vampire because you’re already pale AF,” “you should go as an alien because you already have four eyes,” “you should go as yourself because you’re already so ugly,” and on and on. This obviously made my daughter upset. Her friend’s mom not only refused to stop her stepson, but according to my daughter, also acted like she agreed with him. They live a 20-minute drive away from us, and my daughter doesn’t have a phone and didn’t feel comfortable asking her friend’s mom to contact me so she had to wait until the agreed upon time for me to pick her up. Now she doesn’t want to play at her friend’s house.

Yesterday I got a text from her friend’s mom saying that if my daughter won’t play at her friend’s house, then her friend can’t play at our house. After some clarification, she did not change her mind. My daughter is devastated and wants me to tell the other mom that it’s ok, she can go to her friend’s house. Something feels really off here. The other mom has always felt a little off, but never like this. My daughter is very shy and doesn’t have any other close friends. This friend is in her class at school. I’m not sure what to do now.

How to Do It

Voyeurism Fail: I (32F) have some voyeuristic kinks. To that end, my boyfriend and I have an open relationship, with the understanding that he’ll tell me about his encounters afterwards. He’s very good at describing and I very much enjoy masturbating to them, in addition to sex with him directly shortly afterward. But we were both open to a more direct watching experience, and after some time of him seeing “Clara,” the three of us talked it over and agreed to a little scene where my boyfriend and Clara would have sex at our house, and I would “walk in” on them in the middle of it and stay to watch. Everyone seemed fine with it when we initially talked it over. Everyone seemed fine the day before.

I “find” them in the bedroom and it was like a wet blanket was thrown over things. Suddenly everyone’s awkward and after a while Clara asks to stop, which ends the encounter. I know she’s spoken to my boyfriend since, but I think it wound up killing what the two of them had, which is sad. I’ve gone over it in my head repeatedly and I’m not sure what went wrong, or indeed, if anything actually went wrong. I suspect that it was just not as sexy in person as it sounded when we agreed on it beforehand. I would sort of like to try again sometime, but I was hoping I could get some tips to make sure we don’t get a repeat of this embarrassment. What do I do?

Pay Dirt

Has Money Changed Him or Me?: I am a 27-year-old woman. I was raised with the knowledge that my parents and grandparents were comfortable and that I enjoyed a certain level of privilege as a result. I attended private schools, graduated university without debt, and was given a sizable deposit on a starter apartment which I share with a roommate. However, I also worked from the assumption that I would have to make my way in the world and had student jobs etc. like the rest of my peers and applied to the same job market as everyone else when I graduated. My grandfather recently passed away and left me a small fortune. It is enough that I could invest it and never work again. I love my job so I don’t want to do this.

My fiancé thinks this is what we should do. He is in a band and is a talented musician but they haven’t taken off yet. Even before this, he only worked 20 hours a week to concentrate on his music. He now wants to quit his job. He also balks at giving a portion away to charity, even though this is a family tradition I would like to continue. I have also noticed some other changes like him wanting to eat at more high-end restaurants and taking an attitude to servers that he didn’t before. Given that we both did this kind of work when we were students, I find his lack of empathy awful. We are engaged and I love him but I have concerns that his values have changed since we came into this amount of money. I’m thinking of calling off the wedding but I love him. Help!

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