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Shouldn’t the girl on my son’s team be in another division?

My 9-year-old son plays baseball in a league for 8-12 year olds. There are two divisions, both based on age. A few years ago, girls were allowed to play. (Some people objected.) This brings me to my problem: there is a girl on my son’s team who is bigger and taller than most of the boys. She is an excellent athlete. She also plays the same position as my son, which means she doesn’t play much. As a feminist, I have no problem with this girl playing around. But may I suggest she be promoted to the previous division because of her size advantage?


Listen, I’m trying to cheer your son up. But you are on the wrong track here. You keep mentioning the gender of the girl, which is totally irrelevant. Girls can play! And promoting her to the senior division because of her size ignores the bigger guys. Shouldn’t they be promoted too? It seems that his true motive is to eliminate direct competition from his son.

Here’s the problem: Kids generally sign up for school and activities based on their age. It doesn’t have to be this way. We could use skill checks or other markers. But his son’s league classifies players by age. So if this girl is within the age range of the team, she has a right to be the star of it.

Make this a learning experience for your child. We may not be the best at everything, but we can still enjoy participation. (Visit me at any tennis court for a try!) As the coach gives your youngster a chance to play in every game, shift your focus from your competitors to the joy of playing.

My mother-in-law has been dating her girlfriend for seven years. During this time, I have seen the bride being mean to my mother-in-law, my mother, my wife, and myself. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. But that changed two years ago when she made a derogatory “joke” at my wife’s expense. Now I try to avoid it. My wife and I are expecting our first child this year. Given the girlfriend’s nasty behavior, we don’t want her near our baby. How do we set this limit?


Your mother-in-law’s girlfriend sounds completely disgusting. Still, there are complexities here: How you handle this issue can profoundly affect her wife’s relationship with her mother. (We’re talking about her partner!) Fortunately, her child hasn’t been born yet, so there’s no rush. Make sure you and your wife agree before you do anything.

He may want to talk to his mother alone, for example about difficulties with the girlfriend, or he may prefer to talk directly with the girlfriend. As of now, it seems that no one has called the bride out for her misbehavior. Is there any reason for this?

Giving someone “the benefit of the doubt,” as you say, does not mean silently accepting the abuse. Here, it would mean pointing out unacceptable behavior and trusting the girlfriend to try to do better. I’m not asking you to tolerate disrespect, just to speak up before removing a member of your extended family from your lives.

People often ask me for recommendations (restaurants, service providers, etc.) and then after making them, they ask, “How much does it cost?” I tell them, and they often exclaim, “I could never pay that much!” This leaves me lost. I did not offer the information; they asked for it. Then they make me feel bad because my recommendation doesn’t fit their budget. Any advice?


I doubt anyone wants to hurt your feelings. (It looks like they’re blurting out their surprise!) Still, if this happens frequently and bothers you, why not change the script? Before making a recommendation, short-circuit the conversation by asking, “Do you have a budget in mind?” This way you can make suggestions that fit the bill or apologize for not being able to help.

My boyfriend and I are subletting an apartment (in a posh co-op) that we could never buy. We thought we had until our next door neighbor’s son took up the drums. He makes a horrible racket at all hours! When we talked to the boy’s mother about the noise, she looked at us like we were crazy. Aid!


She may be shocked! You can try talking to an adult in the house again. But the mother’s initial response does not bode well. However, the best of cooperatives is the same as the worst of them: boards of directors and administrative agents tend to get involved in problems in the blink of an eye.

Contact the chairman of the board or the managing agent about this young Ringo Starr. Request that your practice sessions be held at a time that is less disruptive to you. Or, if it’s a really fancy building, request an upgrade to an electronic drum set (with headphones!) for the ultimate in peace and quiet.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, Philip Galanes on Facebook, or @SocialQPhilip On twitter.

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