Dear Amy: I am a 31-year-old mom. My two daughters are seven and five.
When we go to the beach, I always wear a thong or G-string bottom. My daughters have started to scrunch their bathing suit bottoms so their suits look like mine.
When we were shopping for new suits, my 7-year-old asked for a thong or G-string suit, just like the ones I wear.
She could not find one in the girls' department, and was very disappointed. My mother suggested that I buy a regular suit and take it to a seamstress and have it altered.
I don't know if it's appropriate for a 7-year-old to wear a thong or G-string bathing suit bottom. What do you think?
-- Wondering Mom
Dear Mom: A good and basic rule to remember (in this and all things) is: If you're wondering if something is appropriate, then it probably isn't. This applies to behavior and bathing suits.
The reason your daughters couldn't find a thong or G-string bathing suit bottom in the girls' department is because in this culture thongs and G-strings are considered "sexy," and thus not suitable for children.
Children should be dressed in ways that make it comfortable for them to swim and play. They are not mini-adults, and are not old enough to understand the sort of objectification that often accompanies the suit that you choose to wear.
And while I agree that this objectification is wrong, you should protect your daughters from it while they are young.
Dear Amy: My husband, his parents and his sister rotate hosting duties for Thanksgiving every year. It's our turn.
My husband and I decided to do something different this year. We did not want to worry about cooking or cleaning up, so we reserved (and paid for) a private Thanksgiving Day dinner at a popular steakhouse. We had no expectation of anyone paying for their meal; we only hoped it would be a good time.
My husband mentioned the restaurant plan to his mother, and she immediately said that they would not be participating. She wants a "traditional" Thanksgiving, and said we were "lazy" for hosting at a restaurant.
She also told my sister-in-law that we must have money to waste, and is trying to convince her to host Thanksgiving herself, instead of coming to the restaurant with us.
My sister-in-law is trying to make everyone happy, and hasn't committed to anything yet. My mother-in-law has dug in and refuses to even discuss the topic with us anymore.
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I am hurt by this reaction. However, I do not feel we should change our plans because of her, or just give in, when our intention was to do something nice. What should we do?
Dear Wondering: You need to realize that it's possible that if you announced to your mother-in-law that you were hosting at your home but would be serving lobster instead of traditional turkey, she might have a problem.
Many people have a specific vision of what this holiday is supposed to be about, and her vision seems to be one of you, laboring over a roasting pan, basting a turkey.
But if it's your turn and whether you want to host this at a steakhouse, a Chinese restaurant or at the Tim Hortons on the highway, then your family should give it a try.
I'm not sure why Americans are so dug in about this particular meal; families can gather and bicker in many different dining environments. (You could also probably achieve your basic goals by having this meal catered at your home.)
If your sister-in-law wants to give in to her mother's manipulations and host a Thanksgiving dinner instead of you, then that's on her. You'll have to then decide whether to attend, or eat your lonely steakhouse meal. If you decide to attend her meal, then be gracious and grateful. No sulking allowed.
Dear Amy: Thank you for standing up for the father who signed his letter "Dad Needs Help." His mother had offered to babysit for their 14-month-old daughter for the day, but his wife was insisting that the baby adhere to a very rigid schedule.
I have two children. One needed to stay on a strict schedule, and the other didn't. But families do need to learn how to go with the flow.
-- Experienced Parent
Dear Parent: Veering from a schedule can cause problems for some children, but family life is really all about balance. This was a time when the parents' needs should have allowed for some flexibility.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)