I Caught My Daughter “Using” Her Disability to Get Out of Activities at Camp—and Other Advice From the Week

A dad holds his kid on his shoulders next to an illustrated silhouette.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Antonio Santos/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Slate publishes a lot of advice each week, so we’re pulling together a selection of our favorites. Here are a few of the most compelling questions from the week and links to hours of advice reading. This week: family planning, excuses, and first world money problems.

Panicked and Pensive Parent: From our first interaction, my husband and I always knew and understood that each of us wanted a family. As a same sex male couple, this is not necessarily the norm, so we were lucky to find in each other a partner whose values and life goals aligned. Our dream was to have twins—one from “his embryos” and one from “my embryos”—but our journey was not easy. First, we had suboptimal results from our first IVF round with our egg donor: only three viable embryos, and we lost twins in our first implantation. At the time, despite test results reading on paper beautifully, our doctor questioned if there was something off with our egg donor. But we had one embryo left—”my” embryo—so we decided to give it another go and that final embryo was a fighter. We now have a lovely, charismatic 3-year-old who brightens every moment of our days. But my husband is fixated on having a child that is genetically “his” own. We did another cycle with our original egg donor, which yielded no viable embryos, and then moved on to a new donor that we had better success with. But our surrogate has since had three miscarriages from implantations of “his” embryos, and it’s been taxing on all levels, including financially, as we’ve spent our entire life savings at this point.

His birthday was this past week, and he mentioned he thought he’d be further along in the baby process by his age. I seriously doubt our marriage could survive a second child. My husband is very selfish and barely contributes to our life. I organize EVERYTHING: I am the primary earner; ensure every bill is paid; our son’s doctors’ appointments are made and attended; sort childcare, clothes, food; keep the house tidy and maintain the cars; get up with the baby every morning and relieve the nanny every night—I mean, I could go on forever with this list, but the point is I’m exhausted and I can feel the resentment building. Years into all this and he still doesn’t know how to install a car seat, can’t remember our WI-FI password, and only ever grocery shops for the things he needs! How can I manage another child when I’m already so burned out and have no support from him?

No Excuses: My daughter was born with a condition that caused the bones in one of her legs to not form properly. It was amputated above the knee when she was 2, but with her prosthetic, she can do most of the things her peers can do. She’s now 9 years old and very active and outdoorsy. Her disability has always been part of our daily lives, and we sometimes forget she has a disability. It’s not really a limitation for her. She knows this as well and will often indignantly correct people like her grandmother when they assume she can’t do something due to her disability.

This summer she went to several summer camps; one of them was a camp specifically for kids with limb differences, and the others were more general day camps. She’s very outgoing and she doesn’t usually have a difficult time in social situations. It came as a shock when we got calls from the most recent camp asking if certain activities were OK, including kayaking and hiking, which she’s done a million times. After talking to our daughter, we learned that she’d been using her disability as a way to get out of doing things all summer, and this was the only camp that bothered to follow up.

As her father, I want to understand why she felt the need to fib rather than be truthful. I believe that it is important for our daughter to learn that she doesn’t need to hide behind her disability and that it’s OK to just say no if she doesn’t want to do something. My wife says I’m taking this too seriously—am I?

Hiding My Scars: I am a widow who has decided to start dating again. I met a guy on a dating app and I really like him. We’ve been getting together weekly for a few months and we talk on the phone almost daily. He doesn’t have any children. My concern is that, when and if we do eventually have sex, my stretch marks from pregnancy and my somewhat flabby gut will be a turnoff. I am in pretty good shape overall—I eat well and exercise—but with gravity and age, my body looks unattractive naked (even though I feel I look great with clothes on). I am considering getting body sculpting because I am actually turned off by the flab myself, but I wanted to ask you if you think I should try to hide these flaws with sexy undergarments when we get together, in case we end up having sex, or just let it all hang out and hope for the best. What do I do?

First World Problems: My partner and I have bought a house, have savings in the bank, and have permanent jobs with good salaries. His parents were able to give him the money for a deposit on our house. His grandmother died a couple of years ago and left him enough money to pay off a 10 percent equity loan we had against the house and put the same amount again in savings, which means he now has about six months of our combined salaries sitting in his account. We’re four years into paying off an 80 percent mortgage at a rate we can comfortably afford. (I have about three months’ salary in my own emergency fund and our finances are separate.)

We don’t need any more than we have. We’re set. Privileged, even. His family is far better off than mine and basically keeps trying to give us money, on which we always push back because it means a lot to both of us to have that boundary and be self-sufficient. Well, his aunt has left him a share of her estate worth more than twice what he inherited from his grandmother, and he just doesn’t want it. He says it feels immoral to have that amount of money—unearned by us—when others struggle so much (an issue I have been dealing with since the day his parents enabled me to co-own a home). His parents are absolutely horrified by the idea that he might give some of it away when his aunt “would have wanted him to spend it on himself.” How? By buying a bigger house that we don’t want? We’re just overwhelmed and I want to support him. What do we do (apart from paying for therapy)?

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