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My mom doesn’t want me to have the Covid-19 vaccine. But I’ve already done it.


I’m 18 and starting college next month which makes me the first person in my family to go. I am more than excited! I worked very hard to get in and cover my expenses. I was recently informed by the health department that I had to present proof of my Covid-19 vaccination in order to enroll. The problem: My mother has read conspiracy theories on the internet and is convinced that the vaccine is unnecessary and will “change my DNA” – whatever that means. She refuses to let me do it. Spoiler: I secretly got vaccinated months ago! (And I wish she would too.) How should I deal with my mom and the school?

ANONYMOUS, PLEASE!

Unfortunately, there are times when we have to take care of ourselves at the expense of those we love. This is one of them! I hope you tried to convince your mother (with data) that the vaccines available have been rigorously tested and found to be safe by knowledgeable scientists. The fact that unvaccinated people make up the vast majority of Covid hospital admissions and deaths is another strong argument.

However, you are unlikely to be able to convince them if their mind is closed to reason. If your mom is contributing to the cost of your education, which you think you paid for, or if you intend to continue living at home, hold on. You cannot reverse your vaccination, and the consequences of your mother’s reaction can affect your education.

Bring a vaccination card with you when you enroll. If necessary, call the health service beforehand to explain your predicament. If your mom asks, tell her the school gave you a waiver. I am sorry your performance has been overshadowed by your mother’s misinformation. Let me hear from you if you need help, OK?

My daughter’s bat mitzvah is due in autumn. As I discussed our plans to meet with family and friends, I learned that some will not make it. Some have travel concerns related to Covid; others have conflicting obligations. I think I shouldn’t be sending invitations to these people. Why should you formally reject me a second time? I also think invitations to these people seem like gift bags. Several family members are different. You?

MOTHER

I agree with you – for the most part. Sending invitations to people who have already told you they are not available seems redundant and possibly guilty. However, plans (and comfort levels) are subject to change.

Here’s what I suggest: Instead of invitations, send short notes to the people who told you they can’t come, let them know they are going to be missed, and ask them to let you know if they are up still available. Don’t waste time worrying about gift collection: gifts are always optional.

My sister died recently – way too young! It was up to me to search their little house and attic. Fortunately, it was well organized. She had made a list of recipients of various articles. But I came across a couple of boxes that amazed me. One was full of photos of her with a childhood friend with whom she had argued. The other was a pool of fairly new love letters from a man whose name and address are on the envelopes. Unlike her other possessions, she did not give instructions on these things. The family historian in me hates throwing them away. What would you do?

JIM

I am sorry for your loss (and admire your conscientiousness). When it comes to distributing other people’s personal belongings, I subscribe to the do-no-harm doctrine. It’s hard to imagine that childhood photos of your sister’s girlfriend would cause trouble. You can even be healing for them. Send them!

However, be more careful with the love letters. If your sister wanted them brought back, it seems like she said so. Her lover may have been married or unavailable during their correspondence. He can still be! If you tend to return the letters, try contacting the man by phone first to ask if he would like them back.

A friend has been eating gluten-free for years. She doesn’t have celiac disease, but she feels better without gluten in her diet. I always host them when I’m hosting a meal or an event. But when I’m not the hostess – and want to bring a stack of novel cupcakes as the hostess, for example – she is visibly annoyed when she learns that my gifts are not gluten-free. What are my obligations to her if I’m not the host?

SOPHIE

As a guest, you are of course not responsible for the dietary restrictions of other guests. And “visible anger” seems like a strong response to a hosting gift for someone else. Still, if you read your friend correctly, wouldn’t it be better to smooth out her hurt feelings than explain your obligations to her?

Say, “I thought the cupcakes were cute. But they didn’t have a gluten-free option. We’re sorry! “It costs you next to nothing. And it’s good to be a sensitive friend.


If you need help with your uncomfortable situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on twitter.



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