Dear Amy: My spouse and I have decided not to have children for several reasons, including: We have pets whose companionship brings us immeasurable joy, we are both busy working professionals with established careers who travel a lot for work and don’t see each other as much as we would like to, and health and financial reasons.

My spouse has a brother and a sister, each of whom is married with their own young children. When we get together, all they can talk about is their kids. I understand children are a focal point of your life if you are a parent, but that’s not the only aspect of a person’s personality.

When they do invite us to get together, they talk about kids to such an extent that it leaves me and my spouse feeling isolated, almost as if we are inferior for not having children. They also don’t seem to understand or respect that we love our pets as if they were our children.

Any advice on how to bridge this gap and have better quality family time?

 

Amy says: Of course family members should show a personal interest in you when you are with them.

However, here’s some tough love: If you want to have better “family time,” then you should stop seeing family gatherings as cocktail parties, and more as time to dive into family matters. Right now, this extended family revolves around young children.

I agree that this single focus can be monotonous. But for these parents, children are their hobby, work and current events. Kids are what they do.

You should never feel less-than when you are around these young families, and it is completely understandable that you wouldn’t share their obsession. But during the times when you are in their households, you should tolerate their overall focus on their children.

Return racy negatives to mom

Dear Amy: I’ve taken on the task of digitizing my family’s old negatives and slides. I’ve come across several pictures my dad took of my mom that were clearly not meant to be seen by their daughter. Once I realized what they were, I set them aside and have not digitized them.

My parents have been divorced for almost 20 years. I’m sure my mom doesn’t want my dad to have these photos, but I don’t know how to ask if she wants them back, both because they are personal and because it wasn’t the easiest divorce. What do I do with them?

 

Amy says: Put these negatives into an envelope and give them to your mother. That’s it. Tell her, “I wasn’t sure what to do with these, so I’ll let you decide. If you want me to go ahead and digitize them, I’m happy to do that.”

These photos are your mother’s property and she should have the right to make a decision about them. I see no reason to involve or invoke your father.

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