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I Found Condoms in My Son’s Room. What Should I Do Now?

I Found Condoms in My Son’s Room. What Should I Do Now?

Our 19-year-old son is staying with us during his college’s summer break. While my wife was vacuuming, she discovered a box of condoms under his bed. It was unopened, but I am still furious! My son knows that I strongly oppose premarital sex. He’s also well aware of my general philosophy: my house, my rules. When I confronted him about the condoms, which I discarded, he denied they were his. He claimed he was holding them for a friend, as if I were an idiot. I would like to throw him out of the house, but my wife disagrees. How should I proceed?

FATHER

Edicts like “my house, my rules,” which squelch discussion or dissent, practically invite lies in return. You have every right to your strong opinions. But your rigidity here turned an opportunity for conversation into an unproductive impasse.

You would do better, in my view, to have a softer talk with your son — after consulting with your wife, who seems to be taking a more measured approach here. Share the reasons for your views on premarital sex and invite your son to respond honestly. If you are still at odds, ask him to respect your convictions while he is living at home.

At 19, your son is a young adult. When you threaten to “throw him out,” you create a conditional home where he is welcome only if he accepts being treated like a child. I respect your wife’s objection here. I also think you erred in discarding the condoms. If he is sexually active, they are an important safeguard against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections — regardless of your beliefs.

For years, I played tennis with a woman — mostly doubles. She organized all the games. Suddenly and without explanation, she stopped inviting me. I know she still plays. I see her at the club. We chat cordially, but she never asks me to join her games. This has been gnawing at me for months. Should I tell her I was hurt by being cut so abruptly?

REJECTED

It’s a jungle out there! And many people will go to great lengths to avoid hard conversations — which, in this case, all boil down to: “You are not among the top three people I want to play tennis with anymore.”

I’m sorry your feelings are hurt. But I get why she avoided telling you a hard truth or making up a tactful lie that you would likely catch her in. If you are determined to know why this woman (who has no obligation to you) stopped inviting you, ask her. It would be more productive, though, to set up your own games.

I’m a teacher putting together a retrospective photo collage of my students so they can look back on their progress over the years. I have photos of some students from before they transitioned genders, changed their names or chose haircuts that better align with their gender identity. I don’t want to upset them by including photos that show images of them with which they no longer identify. But I don’t want to erase their presence from the community either. Thoughts?

TEACHER

The fact that you are sensitive enough to ask this question tells me you already know about the anguish that deadnames (given at birth and misaligned with one’s gender identity) and pre-transition photographs can cause transgender people — triggering the pain they felt before they emerged as their true selves. Using outdated images in the collage would be wrong.

The more I consider this project, though — looking at students’ “progress” in relation to older pictures of them — the less I like it. Many kids are self-conscious enough without having to look at old photos of their awkward years on a classroom wall. I defer to you as an educator, but why not ask your students for photos or drawings of themselves on a great day (with a brief caption), instead? Call it the Happiness Collage!

See Also

My step-grandson (the grandson of my late wife) is getting married soon. I am attending the wedding with my girlfriend of six years, whom I met after my wife died. I was also invited to the rehearsal dinner, hosted by the groom’s other grandmother, with whom I am friendly. But that invitation was addressed to me alone. Would it be OK to ask her whether I can bring my girlfriend? The groom’s family may not know the extent of our relationship.

GRANDPA

I’m confused: The bride and groom invited you to bring a plus one to the wedding, but not to the rehearsal dinner. That seems odd; it may be a mistake. I doubt the groom’s grandmother created the list for the dinner; it was probably provided to her.

Go ahead and ask if you can bring your girlfriend. But keep in mind that she may not be invited — because of cost or space or closeness to the bridal couple. Those are all acceptable reasons. And you may refuse the dinner invitation if you’re traveling to the wedding or feel uncomfortable attending without your girlfriend.


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.




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