I am 18 years old and will start college next month. This makes you the first person in your family to go. I’m over the excitement! I came in and worked hard to cover my costs. Recently, I was notified by a health service that I had to show evidence of my Covid-19 vaccination in order to register. Problem: My mother is reading the conspiracy theory online and is convinced that she doesn’t need a vaccine and “changes my DNA”. She refuses to get it for me. Spoilers: I was secretly vaccinated a few months ago! (And I hope she does too.) How should I deal with my mother and school?

Anonymous, please!

Unfortunately, you may need to take care of yourself at the expense of your loved ones. This is one of them! We hope to try to convince the mother (in the data) that the vaccines available have been rigorously tested and determined to be safe by the scientists capable of making the call. The fact that unvaccinated people make up the majority of Covid’s hospitalizations and deaths is another strong argument.

But if her mind is closed to reason, you are unlikely to persuade her. If your mother contributes to the cost of your education you say you had a hard time covering, or if you plan to stay at home, keep going. Vaccinations cannot be revoked and the consequences of the mother’s reaction can upset your education.

Please bring your vaccination certificate to the university at the time of admission. If necessary, call the health service in advance to explain your predicament. When your mom asks, tell her that the school has given you a tax exemption. We apologize for the fact that your achievements are overshadowed by your mother’s misinformation. If you need help, we’ll get in touch with you.

My daughter Bar Mitzvah is coming this fall. After discussing the meeting plans with my family and friends, I learned that some people couldn’t attend. Some people are concerned about Covid-related travel. Others have conflicting engagements. I don’t think you should send invitations to these people. Why do they formally reject me again? Also, I think the invitations to these people look like gifts. Some families are different. You are?


I agree with you — most of the time. Sending invitations to people who say they are no longer available is verbose and can cause guilt. However, plans (and comfort levels) are subject to change.

Here are my suggestions: Instead of an invitation, send a short note to the person who says you can’t come, let them know you’re missing out, and ask them to let you know if you can use it after all. Don’t waste your time worrying about receiving gifts. Gifts are always an option.

My sister recently died — too young! Passing through her little house and attic fell to me. Fortunately, she was well organized. She created a list of recipients for various items. But I came across some boxes that confused me. One was full of her pictures with her childhood friend she claimed. The other was a fairly recent cache of love letters from a man whose name and address were on the envelope. Unlike her other possessions, she gave no instructions on these things. Family historians in me hate to abandon them. what would you do?


We apologize for your loss (and admire your integrity). When it comes to distributing the belongings of others, I agree with the doctrine of “doing no harm.” It’s hard to imagine childhood photography causing difficulties for your sister’s friends. They may be healing her. Send them!

However, be more careful about love letters. If your sister wanted them back, she said so. Her lover may be married or unavailable during their communication. He may not yet! If you want to return the letter, first contact the man by phone and ask if you would like to return it.

My friends have been eating gluten-free for years. She doesn’t have celiac disease, but she feels better if her diet doesn’t contain gluten. I always deal with her when hosting meals and events. But if I’m not the host, for example when I want to bring a batch of novelty cupcakes as a hostess gift, she’s visibly frustrated when she finds out that my gift isn’t gluten-free. What is my duty to her if I am not the host?


As a guest, you are clearly not responsible for the dietary restrictions of other guests. And “visible discomfort” seems to be a strong reaction to the hostess’s gift to someone else. Still, if you’re reading your friends correctly, isn’t it better to smooth out her hurt feelings than to explain your obligations to her?

I should say it. “I thought the cupcakes were cute. But they didn’t have a gluten-free option. I’m sorry!” It costs you almost nothing. And it’s good to be sensitive friends.

For troublesome situations, SocialQ @ nytimes.com, Facebook Philip Galanes, or @SocialQPhilip On Twitter.

My mother doesn’t want me to get the Covid-19 vaccine. But I have already done.

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