Dear Ms Behavior:
I am old-fashioned, but I have tried to change with the times. My daughter, who is gay, is married to a wonderful girl. They adopted the most beautiful baby in the world. Of course, that’s not the problem. The problem is the Internet.
My daughter and daughter-in-law have a blog, and they write about every single thing that’s going on in their lives. Plus, they put tons of pictures of my grandson on it.
Granted, he has the cutest little caboose in the world, but must it be available for everyone to see?
Plus, they have their names, phone numbers, address, and birthdays on this blog.
First, is this ethical?
My grandson is only a year old. He cannot yet form complete sentences such as, “Mommy, take my tuchus off the Internet.”
Second, is this safe?
I fear someone will kidnap the little guy in the middle of the night.
Third, should I say something?
My daughter is stubborn, so I’m afraid she will feel criticized, and stop speaking to me. If I talk to my daughter-in-law, my daughter will feel I went behind her back.
So, maybe I should forget the whole thing?
Still, it keeps me up at night.
Dear Bothered Bubbe:
Although the baby hasn’t offered his consent to be a supermodel, the problem seems more an issue of safety than a lack of ethics.
Because blogs are public, and usually meant to attract a wide audience, it’s not wise to post your home address along with naked photos of your infant, yourself, or even your alluring Pomeranian bound and gagged, and dressed in a tutu.
Granted, your daughter and daughter-in-law are not creating kiddie porn. But the world is full of creeps and perverts—and, of course, angels and unicorns, for those who need reassurance—so displaying to an array of unknown readers one’s baby-in-the-raw (or even fully dressed) along with location info is at least a little naive, if not downright disturbing.
Instead of telling your daughter your feelings about this, which she indeed may perceive as criticism, try casually mentioning you recently learned that some people keep their kids’ photos “locked” on their blog or website, and offer the password only to trusted friends and acquaintances. This option may help keep the pervs at bay.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
Our two dear old lesbian friends, Tricia and Patsy, who are in their 60s and 70s, have gone mad. They’re about to quit their jobs, sell their house, buy a recreational vehicle, and travel around the country for “a year or two.” They’re used to a large home, so being stuffed into a 30-foot camper probably will make them kill each other.
These feisty older women obviously haven’t thought it through. They have no health care, plus no plans other than hobbling into a camper, and driving away. Once they’ve spent all their money on gas, fast food, and RV parking, they won’t have a home, other than the RV.
Tricia and Patsy have no children to intervene. So, if anyone cares, it’s us. We’ve tried to discuss it with them to no avail. This whole ill-formed plan makes us terribly anxious. Also, if they drive off into the sunset, and come back broke, we’re afraid they’ll need to spend the rest of their lives in our guest room.
How can we stop them?
—Betty and Veronica
Dear Betty and Veronica,
Instead of trying to talk them out of their hare-brained scheme, act supportive, while helping them build a safety net.
For example, help them to rent out their house, instead of selling it. Help them find an RV to lease, instead of buying one, so that when they drive each other mad in their tiny home-on-wheels, they have a way out. If you really want to help, go online, and download applications for travel insurance or short-term medical insurance for when they’re on the road.
They may object to your interference, but at least you’ll have done something concrete to try to avert catastrophe. These concrete solutions may be more effective than simply telling them they’re crazy and irresponsible.
Meanwhile, let them know that you’re changing your guest room into a home gym, or a sewing room, or an S/M lounge, so they won’t be planning to land there after blowing their remaining $5 on a cheeseburger on the road.
© 2010 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.