Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)
I was adopted, and most of my biological family was gone when I started looking. I did have a chance to meet my great grandmother who was “Dutch.” Her name was “Sanne.” Pronounced Sah-nuh. My husband and I are expecting a little girl, and I want to name her Sanne. My husband is fine with the name but disagrees with the spelling. He thinks it is going to be a hassle for our daughter to have to explain and correct her name to people for the rest of her life.
He proved it to me by texting it to friends and asking them to pronounce it. The majority was Sand. He thinks we should name the baby “Sana.” Which is phonetically close, but nowhere near Dutch. I feel like I am getting ganged up on here a little. Everyone likes the name and has been supportive of me wanting to honor my great grandmother, but agrees with my husband or suggests using it as a middle name. I need an outside opinion, please.
— Does Not Like Sand
Dear Does Not Like Sand,
Your husband is right, a name that many people will mispronounce will be a hassle.
That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use it. It’s a wonderful way to honor your great grandmother. And many kids, especially those with names rooted in cultures other than the ones they live in, deal with much worse. Your daughter won’t be irreparably damaged by having to explain spelling and/or pronunciation each time she’s in a new environment.
That said, there never should have been an opportunity for people to gang up on you about this because there should only be two people in this conversation: You and your husband. Shut down the outside input and talk about it as a couple. What are his fears about Sanne having to explain and correct people? What makes this less concerning to you? Is there any way he can see having a unique name as a good thing that would teach her how to command respect? Can you understand why he might want ease and simplicity for her? What do each of your views have to do with your larger philosophies about the life you want for your kid? Like many parenting topics in your future, there’s a legitimate debate here—but it should be between the people whose names will be on the birth certificate and no one else.
I am a freshman in college with major anxiety. This is the first year I’ll be living away from home, and my anxiety is just getting worse. I frequently find myself missing classes because my anxiety is inducing me to vomit. This happened my freshman year of high school, and I have tried everything except medication. My mom and I have a strained relationship, but she handles my doctors’ appointments and everything until I graduate college. She won’t make me an appointment, and this is getting out of hand.
— Anxious About Everything
You are not alone here, I promise. You are surrounded by freshmen just like you who are nervous, stressed, homesick, and deeply anxious. And you deserve help. The great news: You do NOT have to rely on your mom to make an appointment. Find your way to student health services and ask to see a counselor. If that feels like too much, email a professor who seems kind and ask for help. Knock on your RA’s door. Ask a friend or roommate to help you make an appointment. Whatever it takes. This is the perfect time to get the support you need. Don’t wait until the missed classes turn into failed classes which turn into academic probation, and all of these things increase your anxiety even more. Addressing the situation now—including by taking medication, if a doctor says it’s appropriate—is going to change your college experience and empower you to take control of your life back from your mom. Which can’t happen soon enough.
My 86-year-old father has a lady friend. My mother died four years ago. Lady Friend is rude, is a horrible gossip, and an all-around unpleasant person to be around. It’s almost like my dad chose the opposite of my mom to make it okay. He is clear that he doesn’t love her and does not want to be married to her (or anyone else). Currently, my father is undergoing serious health issues. Lady Friend frequently texts me with demands to let her know when something medical has happened. My biggest issue (besides despising her) is that she never says please. Is it beyond petty to let her know that I would prefer a request to a command? And how do I do so?
— Please F Off
Dear Please F Off,
So I have bad news. You’re going to despise her even if she pops a “Please, if you don’t mind, when you have the opportunity” onto the top of each text she sends. I think a better approach will be to decide when you want to give updates, and give them then (every day, every Sunday, after every major procedure, whatever) and let her know what the plan will be going forward, so you don’t even have to deal with her requests.
Catch up on this week’s Prudie.
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