Dear Carolyn • When a woman chooses to take her husband's name, is it obnoxious if I ask, "Why is this the right decision for you?" and then really listen to the answer?
None of my friends has changed her name yet, so I haven't had to put this in practice, but I'm genuinely curious why people still do this. If I thought the majority of wives-to-be had put great thought into the decision, then it would not bother me. I just hate the assumption that a woman will do this, whereas a man would not. — Name Changes
Answer • So why would you look for polite ways, then, to give women a hard time for taking a husband's name — finding them guilty of sexist assumptions until they prove themselves innocent?
From here, you appear to be violating the same boundary as those who shame women for keeping their names, by acting as jury on whether a woman has "put great thought" into her name. Neither the quantity of thought nor validity of the philosophy applied is any of your business — and treating it as such implies that you expect women to represent their demographic the way you think they should, versus the way each of them actually wants to.
Dear Carolyn • My eldest son graduated magna cum laude from a prestigious university and went Army ROTC. He went into the infantry, got his Ranger tab and a Bronze Star when he was in Afghanistan, among other distinctions. He feels it is the best decision he ever made as he's become a competent leader.
I'm frequently asked, "How could you let him go into the military?" What's the best way to respond? — Anonymous
Answer • With your dukes a little lower and your chest a little less puffed.
Every bit of your pride in your son is deserved; that's not the problem. The problem is, you apparently still feel you have something to prove.
When people bypass simple solutions to write to someone like me, that tends to mean there's an ulterior motive on board. If you have one, then please take a hard look to see what it means.
While I'm here, thank you both for your sacrifices.