Dear Starshine,

My mother-in-law is dumb as a bag of hammers and actually dyes her hair blonde. However, she absolutely loves my toddler daughter. They get along famously — perhaps because of an intellectual equality the two may share — and play and squeal all day long. My daughter was fortunate enough to have her parents' intelligence passed on to her. She is quite clever and full of personality for a 15-month-old. My question is this: Is there any possibility, with prolonged exposer, that my mother-in-law could dumb down my daughter?

This can't be a real question. Is this a real question?

Look, people are smart in different ways. For example, you don't seem to know that dyeing one's hair is almost as common as thinking one's toddler is a genius. Does that make you dumb? No. Does the fact that you misspelled "exposure" make you dumb? I don't think so.

Here's what might make you dumb: The fact that you want to deprive your child and her doting, toddler-delighting grandmother the joy of each other's squeal-inducing company. Seriously. Don't worry about your daughter getting dumbed down. In fact, you ought to hope that spending time with someone else will nice her up.

But what do I know? I dye my hair.


Dear Starshine,

My husband and I came to the U.S. from Romania 18 years ago with our 8-year-old son. We raised him as any good parents would, supporting him every step of the way from first grade to finishing his MBA in finance. He has a six-figure job at only 26 years old. But I can't make him understand the importance of choosing a girlfriend that could potentially lead to a good, solid marriage. He is so naïve, he thinks he can make any relationship work and that every person has something good in them. He moved in with a girl who was married before and has tons of school loans, but insists that she loves my son. Of course she does; he has a good paycheck. I have to find a way to make my son understand his potential before he goes off and marries her. I'm going to look everywhere for help until I find out what we did wrong and how can I help him.

Stop looking. I've got your answers: You've done nothing wrong, and he doesn't need help.

Well, OK, you've done one thing wrong: You've presumed that the only path to happiness is the one you and your husband took — and the one you envisioned for your son. 

I don't know how things work in Romania, but you raised your boy in a country where 26-year-olds neither want nor need dating advice from their mothers. Those who do are weenies, and trust me when I say that no "good, solid marriage" ever sprung from a weenie.

Take a minute to marvel at what you did: You raised a great young man! He's highly educated, well employed, and believes in true love. If he's figured out how to earn $100K at his age, he's no moron; maybe he really can make any relationship work. Maybe there really is something good inside his girlfriend (only don't think about that for very long, it'll gross you out). 

Now take a minute to recognize that the "raising" part is over. Admit to yourself that no woman will ever truly be good enough for your amazing son, and then trust that he's capable of getting what he wants.

You provided him with a life you never had — but you don't get to saddle him with a life he doesn't want.

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