Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Ask Natalie: Husband thinks you should “expand your horizons” when it comes to friends on social media? Mother in her 40s wants to have a baby while daughter in her 20s thinks it’s a “stupid” idea?

DEAR NATALIE: My husband tells me I should “expand my social media horizons” because I only friend people who are like-minded politically. I tried to explain to him that I just don’t want to see anyone’s crap on my feed that will irritate me and that I use social media to connect with friends. He told me that I am being “small minded.” And no, my husband and I do not agree on anything politically. Do you agree with him or with me? — STAY OFF MY FEED

DEAR STAY OFF MY FEED: I can see your perspective. You want to use your time online to connect with friends. This is what many people use social for. Your husband believes that social media should be used as a way to learn about new ideas and examine your own. If this was a few years ago, I would say just enjoy social media for what it is. But now, because of the social justice movements happening, the questioning of value systems, the information being shared about Covid-19, I don’t think it is responsible for me to support you living in an online bubble. We have gotten to a place of such divisiveness in this country in part because we have created little worlds for ourselves. Enjoy your time online with friends. No one is trying to take that from you. But in the meantime, maybe just follow some people who think differently than you or have different experiences. Who knows? You may learn something new. If not about them, perhaps about yourself and how you react to and engage with the world around you. 

DEAR NATALIE: My mother is in her mid 40s.  She has been dating this guy who is eight years younger than her, and he wants to have a baby with her. My brother and I are in our twenties and we can’t believe she is even entertaining the idea of having another baby. Should I tell her that I think this is a stupid idea? I know she has empty nest syndrome, but come on! — ALL GROWN UP

DEAR ALL GROWN UP: I don’t really think it is your place to tell her if she should have another baby. Instead, maybe you should ask yourself why this is bothering you so much? If your mom is still able to have one and wants to have one, why shouldn’t she? How would you feel if you had a daughter and she told you what you should do with your body? I wonder if there is another reason you aren’t comfortable with her doing this. Do you worry that she will have this “second life” and brush you aside? It’s OK if you feel a little jealous about the idea. Sit with whatever you are feeling and examine it before you say something to your mother that could hurt her or that you will regret. Plenty of women are having children later in life and that doesn’t make it a “stupid” idea. You should sit down with her and have a real conversation about the possibility of having a new sibling in your life. Ask her what her hopes are for the relationship and future. She would appreciate a heart-to-heart with you, and it may allow you both to open up. Look at this as a new opportunity to get closer. Your mother may need you more than ever. Try to think of the fun it could be to have a much younger sibling that you can shower with love and attention.

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