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June 12, 2000 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need

Did anyone hear about the weedy sea dragon? Apparently there's one at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific who's going to give birth any day now! At press time, he -- yep, he -- had about 100 lil' pink eggs hanging from his tail, and his paternity ward valise packed by the door! The big deal here is not that he's a he -- male members of the seahorse family incubate the eggs (females mow the kelp) -- but rather that these fluid, florid dudes are a little dicey about breeding in captivity. (Though, perhaps fittingly, the aquarium does have a sex change exhibit. Well, it's California.) Anyway, all weedy fingers and toes crossed for dragon dad!

Also makes me think, mistily, of another dad who, likewise, has been known to distinguish himself with bright color. Well, let's just put it this way: time was, if a Breakup Boyfriend was coming over, BG served Breakup Dad with a list of "clothes you may not wear and noises you may not make."

Occasional transgressions notwithstanding, however, I will say that when it comes to breeding -- as in "civility" -- in captivity, no one beats Breakup Dad. So remember, only six shopping days left 'til Father's Day, so you better borrow his credit card and the car keys, quick.

Having briefly waxed nostalgic/phycoduric, though, I will say that there are -- contrary to popular belief -- certain situations in which offspring can't necessarily tell their folks what to do. Or, at least, it's not effective when they try. (Breakup Mom and Dad, who could hear me thinking about sneaking out to see Adam Ant, were deaf to my pleas against wearing their matching argyle sweaters.) (Uh huh. On the same day.)

But seriously: what happens when it's your parents themselves who haven't turned out to be the best match? Inspired by an interesting conversation in last month's regular Monday chat, here's BG -- and Belleruth's -- brief comments on:

Sitting Your Parents Down for a Talk:
When Their Relationship Hurts You

They say December's a tough one for iffy families, but June can be a cruel month, too. Can they walk you down the aisle if they won't talk to each other? Is your graduation all about your diploma...cy? Where does that leave you, other than between two cold shoulders? How much is your business? You're all adults (right?!) -- can one of you make a difference?

Well. Obviously, there are as many possible permutations here as there are now "Wishing My Birth Mother's Step-Uncle a Happy Solstice!" cards in the stores. But the bottom guideline here is ... well, you can't tell them What To Do. But you can certainly tell them How You Feel. (It's not that flabby. Remember, which, in a sense, hurt worse? "We're not letting you leave until you mow the lawn!" or "We're disappointed in you" -- ?) You can say, for example, things like:

  1. "I'm sad." Not that they will -- or should -- renew their vows just to turn that frown upside down. But hey, it's an honest conversation, which may be more than they're having.
  2. "I'm scared." As in, hey, they're not making it easy for you to set a whole lot of store by lasting love. Get one of them to tell you a story about why you should keep hope alive.
  3. "[Hands over ears] LALALALALALA!" (Response to one bad-mouthing the other.) (Even if you've taken sides in your own mind.)
  4. "Just for today -- or more to the point, for me -- I request that you set aside your differences." High road, good example.

Any other thoughts/anecdotes from folks who've been there (offspring and parents), Do Tell! And let me know if there's anything else I can do, like lead two separate groups to the aquarium this Sunday.

And now, few more dad and parenty letters:



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