Best of the Week
of Oct. 4, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Oct. 4, 1998, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. We encourage you to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

DIRECTOR'S NOTE:
The Oct. 6, 1998, "Further Notice 3" response to Question SE30 in the Sensitive Matters archive, a section reserved for viewing by adults 18 and older, is one of the more remarkable replies Y? has received.


THE QUESTION:
GE83: Why is it that women universally want their husbands to be faithful? Isn't lifetime monogamy too heavy a burden on anyone, including women.? What's wrong with a little fooling around as long as the other person doesn't know, and everyone takes care of their responsibilities?
POSTED OCT. 10, 1998
V.V., 40, female <
VIJAY@DAUPHINE.FR>, Paris, France
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THE QUESTION:
RE103: It seems to me that many Jewish people are in positions of financial and/or political power in the world. For example, it's my understanding that the diamond industry is nearly entirely Jewish-owned, as well as the movie/production industry, etc. If this is true, why is there such a perception thay Jews are persecuted to this day? How can they occupy what seem to be so many influential positions (disproportionate to their demographic) and yet be persecuted at the same time?
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
Brian T. <
wolfie@mpath.com>, Sunnyvale, CA
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THE QUESTION:
A24: Why do people feel it is all right to stereotype all teenagers and younger people based on one bad apple? Example: In my hometown, teenagers who came into the local mall in groups of four or more were told they either had to split up or leave. Why don't they do the same to 40-year-olds?
POSTED AUG. 3, 1998
Craig, 15 <
Bonowitz@aol.com>, Des Moines, IA

ANSWER 1:
I don't know, but what I do know is that it's not fair. I am a teenager and I can honestly say that I am not bad at all. I don't like violence, I don't drink or do drugs and I actually have respect. But since I'm 15 and I wear baggy clothes, many adults see me and think trouble. I don't think it's fair. I've smiled at little kids, and their parents have actually pulled them closer to them - away from me. Gee, thanks.
POSTED SEPT. 28, 1998
Meg X., 15, female, Modesto, Ca

FURTHER NOTICE:
The problem is that there is more than one bad apple. This country is littered with teenagers out of control, with no direction or proper family values. Gangbanging, illiterate behavior, drug use and hopelessness leave negative impressions on adults' minds. I feel kids just don't know how to act anymore. Too much negative influence, violence on TV, etc. Can you blame adults? I feel the same way!
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Frankie S. <
Leanmann@hotmail.com>, Los Angeles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Sure, there is some survival instinct in this stereotype. Parents have been known to be overproctective of their children, and if they have heard of teenageers as a threat, then they will do what they think will keep their child safe. Likewise, a mall that can earn more money by keeping groups of kids apart so that shoppers have a "better" atmosphere when shopping, is going to follow the money. So, I don't think anyone is trying to lay blame. But the question is, Why is the stereotype being propagated? Are the majority of teenagers bad apples? I don't think so. I think that overall, the media hypes the bad and ignores the good, and I think it is a reason for many negative stereotypes these days.
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
Eric W., 19 <
wainright@cheerful.com>, Cupertino, CA
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THE QUESTION:
GD34: I'm clueless: What is an aborigine?
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Doreen <
rdcs1020@monmouth.com >, Long Branch, NJ

ANSWER 1:
Aborigine is a term usually used to refer to "Native Australians." I think the word can be used to refer to any indigenous (native) people. I am not sure what the "weight" of this word is in Australia, i.e. if it is positively or negatively charged. I prefer to use the term "indigenous people." I would appreciate hearing from native peoples as to which phrase is least insulting.
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
Iteki, 22, Irish lesbian <
iteki@chickmail.com>, Stockholm, Sweden

FURTHER NOTICE:
The word "aborigine" comes from the Latin phrase "ab origine," which means "from the origin." When applied to people, it means those people are one of the original native inhabitants of the region. Native Americans (or American Indians) are considered aboriginal people in the New World. The misnomer "Indian" was applied by Columbus, who at first thought he had landed in India instead of a new continent. The name stuck. When Europeans came to Australia, they correctly called the natives there "aborigines," meaning that they were the original people on the continent. But, just as in the case of the American Indians, the name stuck, and now the native people of Australia are known as Aborigines.
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
Stephen S., San Antonio , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
"Ab origine" is a Latin expression meaning "from the beginning." It's most commonly used to refer to the native tribesmen who inhabited Australia before English colonists arrived, but you'll occasionally see native, indigenous peoples of other countries referred to as "aboriginal."
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
Astorian, Austin, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Some people use the term only when referring to the original people of Australia. More correctly, it can mean any indigenous people. For example, the American Indian veterans' groups of Canada call themselves the Aboriginal Veterans Association.
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian, San Antonio , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Aborigines are the true owners of the land now known as Australia. There are like the Native Americans, in that they are the owners or first habitants of the land. There are very dark (like the regular Africans), but they have broader noses and thick, curly hair. Do not get carried away with television and think that Aborigines still live in caves. They are regular people who wear clothes and live in houses, go to school, etc.
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
Ify <
ifebigh77@hotmail.com>, Miami, FL
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THE QUESTION:
RE101: If one faith (for example, Christianity) is the way to salvation, why would God create people before the invention of that faith? Wouldn't that mean they're all condemned to Hell?
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Marissa, 15 <
Lytylfyly@hotmail.com>, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

ANSWER 1:
When God created people, there was no need for religion in the sense we know it. Adam and Eve were on a "talking relationship" with God in Eden. It is only after the betrayal of man and being forced out of Eden that we lost that relationship and had to develop a new way of relating to God. The other part of your question is about having to be a certain religion to reach salvation. Most religions today will admit there are many ways to heaven, but all have the basics the same, the belief in God and following His Commandments.
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
Susan, MO

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THE QUESTION:
R362: I see people from southern India who have African features and color. I don't understand how they got that way. Was there once an invasion of India by African warriors? Or did they develop these features separately?
POSTED JUNE 27, 1998
Ilya, 22, Eastern European, Redwood Shores, CA

ANSWER 1:
If you take a glance at a map of the world, you will see that India and Africa fit almost like a jigsaw puzzle (if you take into account many thousands of years of erosion and other natural events that reshaped the beachfronts). They were once connected. Also, the climates of northern Africa and southern India are almost identical, which facilitates similar evolution of people, flora and fauna. As an aside, people in Africa are not like what is depicted in Tarzan movies and the like. Northern Africa contains many a metropolis: Alexandria and Cairo are only two. Your term "warriors" suggests you have been hoodwinked by the stereotypical propaganda the media tends to perpetuate. The more likely incursion of India by Africans is a sojourn or vacation.
POSTED JULY 26, 1998
Jennifer G., 30, black <
ibvanity@aol.com>, St. Petersburg, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
There are two major racial groups in India, as far as I know. One is the Aryans, or descendants of the Aryans, who may have entered the subcontinent from the northwest (around the Khyber pass), and the other is the Dravidians. The Dravidians are said to be the original inhabitants of India and resided mainly in the south. Their features tend to be darker, and perhaps, as you have said, more African. Residents of Sri Lanka are probably as close to what Dravidians in India may have been like at one time, as mixing between the north and south has undoubtedly softened some of the distinctions over time.
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
G.B., 33, East Indian, Clinton, NJ
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THE QUESTION:
R455: To Japanese Americans: How do you feel about the fact that the U.S. media has spent so much time discussing the Holocaust but has mostly ignored discussion of the Japanese-American internment camps in operation in the United States during the same time?
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Laura W., 37, Jewish female, <
lauraw@cobalt.cnchost.com>, Los Angeles, CA

ANSWER 1:
Wow, someone cares. I'm not Japanese American, but I feel strong empathy for what happened to them during World War II. I recall seeing a posting on a newsgroup once from a guy who wanted to know why the U.S. government was compensating Japanese when "the Japanese government didn't compensate American POWs." How incredibly ignorant. That's why I admire men like U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who volunteered to fight for his country right out of the internment camps, even though the rest of America considered him a "Jap" and incarcerated his family.
POSTED OCT. 5, 1998
Ray, 24, Asian American <
yangban@erols.com>, Washington, DC

FURTHER NOTICE:
Thank you for asking. As a Japanese person living in the United States, I do think about the issues surrounding World War II quite a bit. What does bother me is that while Americans seem to remember Pearl Harbor and bring it up every year, they seem to have forgotten two atomic bombs they dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don't want to justify what my countrymen did at Pearl Harbor, but what happened there doesn't even compare to the genocide that occurred in those two cities, as well as what happened in the Tokyo and Osaka area from massive bombing. Many, many more people died in much more painful, cruel ways in Japan from those bombings. On the other hand, Japanese history books don't address even a tiny bit of the massacre, rape and genocide that we did in greater Asia up until World War II. We basically enslaved and robbed Korea, China, Mongolia, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other Asian countries that Japan occupied. This bothers me as well. I hope this sheds light on your question about the camps for the Japanese in United States during that war. It bothers me that both sides of the issue are not addressed, but we Japanese are as guilty as Americans.
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Japanese <
ari@tkp.com>, Austin, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am the Archivist for the Japanese Canadian National Museum and Archives in Vancouver, B.C. The Japanese in Canada faced the same discrimination during World War II as Japanese Americans. In dealing with the Japanese in Canada, there seems to be a pervasive attitude that although they acknowledge the horrors of Canada's recent history, there is an attitude of "letting the past go and moving on." A very positive attitude, although often viewed with a sense of denial of the past injustices forced upon them. While the principles of segregating and confining Japanese during the time were similar to the European Jewish experience, Japanese Canadians weren't slaughtered, a tremendous difference. However, in relative terms, the Japanese lost their property and dignity, and many were forced to denounce their Canadian citizenship or move to Japan, a place many had never been to or could not entirely relate to. It is vitally important to never take the rights and freedoms we currently cherish for granted.
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
S. Foster, archivist (bi-racial) <
jcnmas@bc.sympatico.ca>, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
What we did to Japanese Americans in World War II was bad, but to me it is an outrage to compare it to the Holocaust, where more than six million defenseless Jews were murdered.
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
Al, Jew, 66 <
maydec1@mailexcite.com>, Fort Pierce, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Six million people were gazed and burned by the Nazis during World War II. How many Japanese Americans were? How can you (Jewish) compare a racial slaughter with a security (even if unfair) matter?
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
FDON, 60, French republican <
fdondon@minitel.net>, Paris, France
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THE QUESTION:
R477: Why do people call Italians dagos, wops or guineas? I'm Italian and have no idea what they mean, but I know they are slurs.
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Mario <
Bigppajay@hotmail.com>, Newbury, OH

ANSWER 1:
I wish I could answer your question or hear the answer because I'm Italian, too, and it really bothers me off when people use those slang terms.
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
Sarah, 16, Italian, <
odaraho@juno.com>, NH

FURTHER NOTICE:
I believe the term "wop" stems from the days of immigration into the United States. WOP meant "Without Papers" and was notated on the top of the ship's manifest for illegal immigrants as they arrived at Ellis Island. Not all ships would get the notaion. Thank god for the Discovery Channel.
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
M. Miller, 32, white male, Detroit , MI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
"Dago" is an American mispronunciation of the common Italian name "Diego." There is no authoritative source for the origin of "wop," but it's widely believed to have been shorthand on Ellis Island. Many of the Italians who came to America at the turn of the century arrived with no money, no form of identification and no passports, visas or work permits. Supposedly, Ellis Island clerks referred to such immigrants as W.O.P.s (W.O.P. stood for "Without Papers").
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
Astorian, Irish-American
Austin , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I'm not sure about the other terms, but "wop" is an acronym for "Without Papers," a reference to illegal immigrants. How it got attached to Italians rather than any other ethnic group I don't know.
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
Laura, 37, Italian American on my father's side, Baltimore , MD

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THE QUESTION:
R464: Sometimes when I am driving down the street, I encounter an African American crossing. As I get closer, they seem to slow down, as though they are daring me to hit them. Why is this? I'm sure there's some logical explanation.
POSTED SEPT. 23, 1998
Bill C., gay white male <
nellytooth@aol.com>, Memphis, TN

ANSWER 1:
Many blacks are treated by whites as if they are invisible. In most day-to-day interactions, other than school or work, there is normally little eye contact and seldom interpersonal communication between races. So the crosswalk phenomenon you describe is a passive aggressive way to send a message that "you have to see me, you can't deny that I exist, and you must acknowledge my presence. You may want to destroy me ... but you can't." The slower the walk, the more control, though displaced, the person lingering feels. This attitude stems from deeply internalized effects of racism, some of which manifest themselves in the most peculiar ways. Keep in mind that, however unfair, until a person gets to know you personally, you are just another white man who has the burden of disproving that you have a racist agenda.
POSTED OCT. 5, 1998
Dee W. <
westde@hiram.edu>, Cleveland , OH

FURTHER NOTICE:
Dee, pu-lease! The reason for that slow walk across the street is rudeness and risk-taking stupidity, plain and simple. I have seen a lot of pedestrians do it, black and white alike.
POSTED OCT. 10, 1998
Diane, African-American female, Durham, NC
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THE QUESTION:
D27: To people who stutter: I was at Wal-Mart the other day, and the boy ringing me up at the register had a bad stuttering problem. They had to do a price check on one of my items, so I stood there waiting for about 10 minutes. During this time, I did not speak to the boy because I felt I would be putting pressure on him or making him nervous (I was nervous, too). He did not offer any conversation, either. Did I do the right thing, or is there something else I should have done?
POSTED OCT. 5, 1998
R.D., white female, Jacksonville, FL

ANSWER 1:
I am 25 and stutter. I don't believe you should have done much different, unless something else came more naturally for you. It's normally better for the stutterer, and the listener, for the listener to act normally, just as she would if the person didn't stutter. Of course, you may have to try harder to listen to the stutterer through all the starts and stops and ums and ahs, with or without eye contact, so he wouldn't have to repeat himself, which makes the stuttering worse and more embarrassing. When I found myself in those situations, I was embarrassed and really wished for a quick end. But when people just stood there and listened intently for as long as it took for me to speak, or spoke when they wanted to, or remained quiet when they didn't feel like speaking, it made all the difference. It helped me get back to the feeling of normalcy, which actually helped eliminate the stuttering. My stuttering is worse when I consciously think about it, and when people make a big deal about the way I speak by becoming overly quiet or "scrunching up their faces" or filling in words, it makes me think about it more. Just talk, even when it may be uncomfortable, and eventually you and the stutterer will benefit.
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Issac B., 25, one who stutters, black male <
ibailey@thesunnews.com>, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

FURTHER NOTICE:
I would say simply respond to the cashier as if he spoke "normally." A smile or a kind word you would give anyone in that situation would be appreciated. I grew up with that problem, and although it's gone now, I recall vividly the stares and giggles. And, yes, I worked in public places, too.
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Male, 39 <
alan4433@lycosmail.com>, Atlanta, GA
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THE QUESTION:
GE78: Why do women wear fake nails? I have been seeing this for the last few years, first on performers on stage, then on a lot of black women, and now on a lot of white women. The answer I get 95 percent of the time is "because everyone else is wearing them." Very, very few men like to see them, and they are not attractive. To me, women today are trying to be independent, but they seem to all want to look the same, and if they are not wearing the fake nails, other women seem to put pressure on them to wear them. I would think women would want to show their natural beauty, especially their hands. So why pay so much for something that looks fake?
POSTED SEPT. 25, 1998
Tony, 43, black male <
cinatisoulman@mailexcite.com>, Cincinnati, OH

ANSWER 1:
They wear them because they like them. It seems to be somewhat of a status symbol, too. Moving to the Detroit area from Nebraska, I was pretty surprised to see the number of urban women here who wear long acrylic nails. Numerous shops are dedicated to separating substantial amounts of money from customers in exchange for snazzy painted nails. I suspect a dealer would have quickly starved to death trying to earn a living from that in Nebraska, where plain, hard-working unadorned hands were the norm. My first year here two women with long painted nails with little rhinestones in them played on my softball team. Long nails didn't seem to impede their softball ability any. They were good players with strong throwing arms. I view acrylic nails as just another type of body adornment, like tattoos, piercing, makeup, hairstyles, etc. Different strokes for different folks. Incidentally, no one has ever suggested that I get false fingernails. Long ago I was told that any lesbian with long nails did not have a current lover. That was a myth, too.
POSTED SEPT. 28, 1998
DykeOnByke, white lesbian with plain short nails <
DykeOnByke@aol.com>, Southfield, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
A woman's choice to wear fake fingernails is the same as wearing makeup or visiting a hair salon for a perm, etc. It has nothing to do with being independent, in my opinion. It has more to do with looking nice and taking care of yourself. I wear the nails because I like them, not because a man may not like them, and I feel that you may be generalizing when you say that most men do not like them.
POSTED OCT. 5, 1998
Amy P., 28, single white female, Port St. Lucie, FL
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THE QUESTION:
SO44: Do bisexual women find greater satisfaction with their male partner or female partner, and why?
POSTED JUNE 13, 1998
Ty, 35, straight black male, Costa Mesa, CA

ANSWER 1:
Your question seems to be making a common incorrect assumption about bisexuals: Namely, that we have to have one partner of each sex to be happy. As with gay or straight people, the choice to be monogamous or have multiple partners depends on the individual's preference (and the preference of their partner(s), hopefully). I am a bisexual woman who is now happily married to a man. I don't feel I'm missing out by not having a female sex partner in my life. In fact, the only time I have dated more than one person at once, I was seeing three different men! (All of whom knew I was seeing other people). Sex with women and men is different, but it's like enjoying both chocolate and strawberry ice cream - they're both nice in different ways, and you don't have to have both to enjoy having ice cream. Having one or the other is equally fulfilling.
POSTED SEPT. 1, 1998
S. Addison, 24, bisexual female, <
elusis@dreamscape.com>, Syracuse, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
I haven't found there to be any significant difference between males and females in terms of love-making or level of satisfaction. It all depends on the individual. There is a greater correlation with enthusiasm and playfulness than with gender. You might say that is part of the essence of being bi: A marked lack of preference based on gender.
POSTED OCT. 5, 1998
Athena W., 47, bisexual female, Houston, TX
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THE QUESTION:
D24: If you are being introduced to someone and they are unable to shake hands - they are missing their right hand or their right arm is paralyzed - do you wait to see if they offer their left hand, or should you leave it at a verbal greeting such as "Nice to meet you"?
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Michael G., single male, Seattle, WA

ANSWER 1:
I have severe rheumatoid arthritis, and I find shaking hands often very painful. This isn't just what you've asked, but it has a similar effect: I don't offer my hand, and I know this disturbs some people, who are then unsure how to act. Twice, I have had others grab one of my hands to give it a shake. My advice? Don't. I found the experience humiliating and frightening, and it left me (if you'll excuse the pun) feeling badly shaken - aside from the pain. So let it go.
POSTED OCT. 5, 1998
S.L.S., 40, San Francisco, CA
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THE QUESTION:
GE59: I'd like to hear from mothers and fathers who've made the decision for one parent to stay at home. I'm doing some research on the influence media and society have on this decision. I've heard hostility, resentment and regret from women on both sides of the issue. There seems to be more support for working mothers outside the home, while mothers who decide to remain full-time parents often lack support from family, friends and other working professionals. Please give your background and own experiences about choices in your life, and please note the majority of time your child(ren) spend with adults, caregivers, family, etc. I'd also like to hear from children about who the major influences in their life have become and why.
POSTED AUG. 3, 1998
Anne C., 39, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

ANSWER 1:
Before getting married, my wife and I agreed she would stay at home. We now (after 14 years) have two children. Yes, my wife has told me it is tough to "stand alone," staying at home when even women in our church hold women who work in higher esteem. I spend time with my children more than a lot of people. I feel it is important to have a support network, whether it be organizations like Focus on the Family or other friends who share the same values. Media of all types suggest that children can grow up on their own, but the news media point also to all the problems in our society, a lot of them because of lack of parental care and involvement. This doesn't mean children with a stay-at-home parent are necessarily better adjusted. But they do know that they have someone at home who can help them when they need someone. Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best and other television shows are often presented as obsolete, but the next generation of children is far more important to society than an extra car, a cottage or an annual vacation to the Caribbean. Children are No. 1 in our household.
POSTED OCT. 5, 1998
A. Urbonas, 45 <
urbonas@freenet.edmonton.ab.ca>, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE:
I am extremely frustrated with those who call my wife and I economically selfish for working. The previous respondent says that "children are No. 1 in our life" and suggests that working couples somehow prioritize vacations and cars above their children. I do not find such comments helpful or constructive, but merely tools to make them feel good about their own choices. Children are No. 1 in our household, too, but we have legitimate economic reasons for having to work. We don't live a lavish lifestyle. Our previous home suffered a major decline in value and we could not afford to sell it; even renting, we lose hundreds of dollars a month on the mortgage. (Incidentally, we moved in part to be closer to our extended families, and took pay cuts to do so). My wife and I would love to stay home, but we can't afford it.
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Dan H., 34, father of two <
dnh6n@virginia.edu>, Charlottesville, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
If both parents must work because they can't make ends meet, I think it's time for them to examine their priorities. In my parents' generation, families had one car or perhaps no car at all. There were no credit cards, so people had to save up for things. There was no cable TV, no color TV, no VCRs or video games. Children wore hand-me-down clothes from their older siblings, cousins or neighbors. There were no daycare expenses. Children are a lifestyle choice that people must deal with.
POSTED OCT. 10, 1998
43, white female <
wordaday@england.com>, Fresno, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Growing up, I didn't have a father, only a mother who had to work to support both my grandma and I. I understand this and I'm very grateful that I always had something on my plate and something on my back, but I still wish my mother would have spent more time at home. I had some rough teen years, specially growing up in L.A. Now my husband and I have decided that we won't have children until we can "afford" to have them. That means if we can't afford for one of us to stay home with them, we will not bring them into this world. Some people might think this is going too far, but is not wanting to have to choose between giving your children what they need physically vs. what they need emotionally going too far? Why can't we give them both?
POSTED OCT. 10, 1998
Aztlan, 21, Mexican female <
aestra@chmc.com>, Bothell, Wa
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