Advice columnist

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I mass-e-mailed some close friends a picture of my 9-month-old doing something really really cute — yes, I know not everyone is as in love with him as I am, but I honestly thought at least a few of them would get a kick out of it. But I got wrist-slapped by one friend (she happens to be childless), who told me gently that she and most people prefer not to receive e-mail like that.

I immediately felt embarrassed, and a little sad, because I get joy out of sharing my son’s life with my nearest and dearest. What’s the rule on this? Should I default to never showing pictures of him to anyone, or waiting for people to ask?

Bad Mommy

Take the one friend off the circulation list, for starters. She had a right to speak up, but not to speak for “most people.”

Then, ask a few other good friends whether they mind the occasional e-mail. Couldn’t hurt to get some objective opinions, or realistic approximations thereof. I love getting the occasional picture from my friends, and I’d hate it if they stopped sending them just because one person squawked.

Regardless of what other friends say, whittle your “mass-e-mail” list down anyway to a few people you can really count on to care. For all you know, some of your more peripheral recipients are struggling (infertility, scary diagnosis, money trouble . . . ), you’re not close enough to them to know this, and a breezy, impersonal little baby-gram could easily hit them wrong.

Also give your e-mails a gag test — or, more accurately, a brag test — before you hit “send.”

Finally, now that I’ve taken multiple paragraphs to answer this: Don’t read too much into it all. It’s a baby pic, not a political rant.

Dear Carolyn:

My younger sister recently married a man much older than she is: mid-20s vs. 50ish. He’s a good man, and they love each other deeply, so the age isn’t my issue.

My concern is that he is both very well educated (multiple master’s degrees and successful in a technical field) and sort of a know-it-all. He has opinions on EVERYTHING, whether he actually is well informed about it or not, and is vocal and forceful with those opinions.

My sister did not go to college. She is bright but not particularly worldly and has a very, very small social network. I just worry that when they have kids (which they are trying to do), her opinion won’t be respected as much as his. He has also done it before; he has two kids with young children of their own.

I can’t change either of them, but is there anything I can say or do to make sure that she knows she deserves the same respect for her instincts as any new mom does?


Yeesh, sounds like he married someone to reinforce his self-image.


The time to confront this is when they have kids and you witness his disrespect for her views firsthand. Now all you have is possibly unfounded, third-party worries — and, well founded as the concern might be, it’s nevertheless premature.

What you can do now: Treat her as an equal. Boost her immunity while you can.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Subscribe at