DEAR ABBY: I'm a 36-year-old woman who has a 25-year-old friend I love like a little sister. Because of that connection, I felt compelled to ask her to be a bridesmaid in my upcoming wedding.
After she agreed, I overheard her mention that she would be getting a large tattoo on her arm. Because she knows how I feel about visible tattoos, I asked her if she'd wait six months until after the wedding. She and the matron of honor are scheduled to wear strapless, knee-length gowns.
She proceeded with the tattoo and now has half an arm of full-color design. I don't want her to ruin my wedding or the photographs. I would feel guilty if I had to force a jacket or sweater on her or my matron of honor, especially if the day is unseasonably hot. What should I do? -- NO INK IN LOUISVILLE
DEAR NO INK: If your "little sister" cared as much about your feelings as you seem to about hers, she would have postponed getting the tattoo as you requested. Too bad she didn't.
However, weddings are more than the procession and the picture album. They are about loving friends and family and the joining of two people who intend to build a life together. If you're worried about the pictures, pose "Sis" so her "canvas" can't be seen by the camera.
DEAR ABBY: Seven years ago, my husband, "John," had an affair that resulted in the birth of a child. Although it was difficult, John and I stayed together and our marriage is better than ever.
My husband supports "Talia" financially and sees her whenever he can. The adults have all managed to create a cordial, working relationship for Talia's sake.
Talia spends a few weeks with us during school breaks. When I go out with her and run into acquaintances, they'll ask, "Who's this?" I will give her name, but sometimes they press for more. Many of our friends know we've been married for a long time with only one child together. (Our daughter is in college.)
My question is -- is Talia my stepdaughter? Is there a simple way of answering these questions without making anyone uncomfortable, especially Talia? -- PART-TIME MOMMY
DEAR PART-TIME MOMMY: Yes. Talia is your stepdaughter, and you can introduce her that way or refer to her as John's daughter. Either would be correct.
DEAR ABBY: What is the polite way to correct a child who is being rude in your home while her mother, who is present, does absolutely nothing? -- DISCIPLINARIAN IN TRACY, CALIF.
DEAR DISCIPLINARIAN: Here's how I'd handle it. I would get down to the child's eye level and say: "Honey, I have certain rules in my house. When you're here, I expect you to ( ). Do you understand?"
You cannot expect a child who may not have been taught basic manners by his (or her) mother to know what you expect unless you spell it out sweetly and firmly. And if the bad behavior persists, I would socialize with the child's mother only one-on-one.
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