Inappropriate relationships, gifts and raising DD with our values without disrespecting in-laws (LONG) - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-28-2011, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is turning 2 tomorrow and between x-mas and her birthday we've received some generous gifts from friends and family. We created a wishlist and most stuck to it. But the one who didn't we are somewhat confused about how to deal with.

 

The gift is from my father in law's girlfriend who is currently married to another man. Yes, I am fully aware that I am being judgmental. We spent a Thanksgiving at her house many years ago and I sat next to her husband who cried and drank heavily until he slumped over the table unnoticed by the rest of her family happily chatting away. It was an incredibly sad sight and while this man is clearly an alcoholic I resented her for being so dismissive of his need for respect in his own home. I decided after that I wouldn't participate in their "family" functions. I also don't care for my father in law for this but don't want to alienate him because my DH is still interested in maintaining a relationship. After DDs birth his girlfriend gave $500 as a gift that we accepted, reluctantly and out of respect for his father. I regretted it as it was happening but didn't put up much of a fight because DH was unemployed and it was money. Shortly thereafter my father in law insisted she participate in the baptism. I was uncomfortable but allowed it to keep the peace. I also felt that after accepting the $ that I couldn't very well exclude her. I wish we had never taken the money. I need to make it clear that I take no joy in making judgments about another person ... I respect open marriages so long as both partners are consenting and treated with respect. This is not one of those situations and it is not something I want my daughter to grow up thinking this very disrespectful situation is the norm. I could go on about the inappropriate comments and broken boundaries but I've got that stuff under control now with the exception of GIFTS.

 

In general I really am not a fan of getting gifts because I feel some obligation to the gift giver even though that isn't the intent ... most of the time. Over the summer my father and law sent us a bear and a mechanical dog from him cruise. Well, a few weeks ago my father in law told my husband that part of the gift sent 6 months ago was from his girlfriend and she never received a thank you card. So my husband told me that she needed one and I went off the deep end. We had NO idea part of it was from her. She knew we got it because my father in law told her but to hear from him the suggestion that we needed to send her a thank you card 6 MONTHS later was pretty strange in my opinion. It seemed to me that they were more interested in pointing out how we were near heathens for not sending a card. I could understand if it came up a month later but 6 months? We aren't puppets for my father in law to command thank you cards from. I told my husband to deal with it, that I was NOT getting involved. I'm guessing he let it go.

 

So today I get a package from father-in-law's married-to-someone-else girlfriend. Oh joy. She sent two princess/fairy outfits complete with wings and tiaras. If you knew my philosophy on the inappropriate sexualization and consumerism of young girls you'd know that I'm not cool with princess/fairy garb. I realize some are but that isn't the point of this post and don't want to isolate any pro-princess people here as it is a personal choice. My issue here is that she knows I feel this way and a gift like this is pretty passive aggressive and I don't see the situation improving. It is possible that she didn't remember but she could have sent a stuffed turkey and I'd probably still want out from under her gifts. 

 

So I'd like to end the gift giving. I'm still ok with sending a Christmas card to her along with 100 other people but I'm done with receiving gifts from her. It should have never started. I don't want presents from her and I don't want her in my daughter's life. I am not a passive aggressive person and what I'd like to do is send her a genuine thank you card that says "Thank you for thinking of us. It isn't necessary to send gifts in the future as your kind thoughts are enough." But that feels a bit harsh. I really want her to get the message that we don't want any more presents from her. I don't want this kind of relationship with her and my daughter and I don't want indirect pressure on my husband and his father because the women can't get along. 

 

Any suggestions on a win/win situation? I don't see this situation improving and it is going to get more complicated when DD gets older and starts asking more questions about who she is.

 

Your help is appreciated.


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Old 12-28-2011, 09:45 PM
 
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That is a tough situation. Gifts are such a tricky thing. I have a similar ick-factor about gifts from my MIL. She is totally out of sync with how we raise our son and how we feel about gifts. I have composed many a letter in my head about how I do not want gifts from her any more, but I have come to the conclusion that any letter will just backfire. She will not hear what I want to say,only that the way she does things is not good enough. So I will quietly return/regift/resell anything I don't want and keep the occasional gem. The toys she gets that I hate go in the bottom of the toy box or the top of the closet and can be retrieved for show if necessary.

In my opinion,it will not help to write a letter. Or of you do,write it and don't send it. Burn it or bury it or put it on a dart board and throw sharp objects at it. smile.gif
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:51 PM
 
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This is hard.

 

Do you really want/need to shut this person out of your life/your child's life? If you feel that the person is so toxic that it is unhealthy for your family, then sometimes you must take such action.

 

I think that step is rare.

 

You cannot control every element that comes into your child's life. My inlaws have given my kid(s) many things that I would not have given. But part of educating your children is helping them to deal with the fact that the world exists beyond the safety and familiarity of their home.

 

When your children are young, the solution is easy. Take the gifts, send a thank you note and donate them. Once the child gets older, this will become impractical as they will remember the gift and will notice if it's gone. But if the 99 percent of your life is dedicated to the values, ideals and goals that YOU believe are important, these things will not matter so much. They will play with the fairy wings for a few days and be done with them. Or they will love them and will make them into their OWN thing, which will be so much more lovely than you could ever imagine.

 

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is the ability to deal with the world around them.

 

I remember talking to my daughter, now 8, about how much I was worried about Beauty and the Beast. We talked about how it was odd that the beast was mean and cruel. Why would she stay with him? Was it stupid for her to think that he would change into a prince? Most mean people don't change, right? It was actually a wonderful opportunity to talk about these things, to help her understand them in a more meaningful way than it would have been if I had simply closed the door to it.

 

But still, this is very, very hard. It has taken me YEARS to get to the point where I no longer worry about the crap people give my kids. Think of it this way, each crappy thing that your kid gets is an opportunity for you to talk about the issues that you care about, the things that are important to you.

 

You cannot control everything around your child, you can only help them deal with the world around them.

 

These people are probably (really) motivated by love, remember that. Really! It's true! LOVE. Love for your child. As much as we think it is a repudiation of our parenting, our values. it is really love in their hearts. That is important. Focus on that as much as you can. And help your child understand that too - that this person LOVES them. LOVE!!! It's a good thing.

 

Take a deep breath. Know that it IS VERY HARD. You're not over-reacting. You're just being a good parent. If you didn't care at all, you'd be a bad parent. Accept the gift for what it is _ Love, a gift of perspective and a way to talk about the world.

 

Good luck!!!


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Old 12-28-2011, 11:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreciate the feedback. I guess my big issue is that this woman is married to another man but having an affair with my father in law. It isn't the type of gifts she is giving it is the relationship she is trying to have with my daughter by giving gifts that bothers me. I'm not cool with her role as a grandmother. I'm not cool with her as a role model for my daughter. My daughter is getting older and once she figures out that this woman isn't married to her grandfather but to another man I am going to have some explaining to do. I feel like she's already pried her foot in the door and it seems to be far more about power and positioning than love.

 

 


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Old 12-29-2011, 11:51 AM
 
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Certainly at her age you are not going to tell her that this woman is married to another man but having a relationship with your father in law. She wouldn't pick up on that on her own for many, many years. 

 

You can say - this is grandpa's "friend"  Jane. I think we sometimes assume that our kids see the world the way we do - that your daughter will wonder if they are married, why they're not married, who someone else is married to. Kids don't really see the world that way. It's just "oh this is grandpa and that lady he always comes with and they bring me toys! Yay!" 

 

She's not going to be a role model to your daughter, she's just one of the many people who are in your kid's life. Unless she is so toxic that she is abusive, I would not shut her or your father in law out.

 

It's hard but I think it comes down to the idea that we cannot control every element of our kids' lives - from who they meet and play with, from what they do and enjoy, etc.

 

Good luck. Take a deep breath.

 

 


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Old 12-29-2011, 12:25 PM
 
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Quote:
 I'm not cool with her role as a grandmother. I'm not cool with her as a role model for my daughter.

 

 

shouldn't the concern be with your FIL? she may be just one of many down the road

 

have your DH take care of this and follow the good advise the other's have posted  


 

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Old 12-29-2011, 01:07 PM
 
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Such a lovely lovely post Whozeyermamma!

 

It is something I forget too. Although am blessed with some of the best ILs I sometimes get irked by li'l things too which clash with my parenting views (and this should be a common story given that such generation gaps are expected and the norm rather than the exception). Yet I resent them (or some of their actions) sometimes .

 

I should paste your post somewhere and come read it often to give me the right perspective.

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Old 12-31-2011, 11:18 AM
 
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Whozeyourmamma: thank you. I think I will also print out your excellent response for those days when I am frustrated by the cheap, plastic crap my parents give my DS.

OP. I think you can't control everyone around you. I think you need to decide to either have your fil and his girlfriend in your lives, or you cut them out. I think you can use it as a teaching moment throughout your lives. As for the gift-giving, send a thank you note, and toss if you don't want it.
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Old 01-01-2012, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the consideration ladies. I do appreciate it. I'm not saying that I'm considering cutting this woman out of our lives I just need her to scale back on the gift giving. It happens randomly throughout the year and I personally feel obligated to this woman because she makes such a fuss. I am uncomfortable with her in general and wanted to share some details to the women on this board on why I am not a fan of her being in our lives due to the icky cheating on her husband factor that just isn't polite to discuss in her company.

 

I'm looking for a healthy/constructive way to stop the gifts. It is becoming less and less about the gesture and more about what she did for us. I feel her most recent gift was very passive aggressive since she is fully aware of how I feel about these sorts of costumes.

 

Has anyone politely refused or ended a gift relationship? Any tips?


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Old 01-02-2012, 11:15 AM
 
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Has anyone politely refused or ended a gift relationship? Any tips?

 

 

we ended gift giving (Christmas) so a bit different by my DH writing a thank you letter to his family and said we were grateful but felt we needed to have things end, (PERIOD!)

 

we only do for two people on his side (various reasons why we ended it!!---basically WE NEVER GOT A "THANK YOU"!) and had some negative fall out but stuck with our decision and we have been thrilled

 

so not exactly what you are dealing with- personally this IMO is you DH's issue since it's with his father's friend and I would ask him to step up or have him be the one that deals with it (sending the thank you-etc) and gets rid of the stuff you don't want

 

I no longer will do things for my dh's side and he has to do it or it's not done-his side his responsibilities here - we had also sent a letter right after our son's birth and stated what we would and would not allow in our home and that was not the reason behind no longer doing gifts 


 

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Old 01-02-2012, 12:20 PM
 
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if you want the FIL relationship, you are going to have to take his girlfriend, too, it seems.

 

it may be sucky for you, but i don't think you are going to find a way to shut her out and keep him in, as long as the FIL is still with her. 

 

you have every opportunity to spin this however way you want to your own children. i would gently suggest that you start meditating on that topic, instead of worrying over the gift giving of the girlfriend. the former you can control, the latter you cannot. except to say that you can always put the gifts away (or regift them in your donations bags) and just send a generic thank you, that doesn't have to be heartfelt or even personal. just be done with the whole thing that way.

 

and go on about your life...

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Old 01-02-2012, 12:25 PM
 
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and $500 is a lot of money. you took it because you needed money??? was it or was it not a gift to your child (ie, their own bank account)?

 

if you feel obligated to the woman, start by returning her $500.

 

as an ADULT, i would NEVER accept this level of money as a "gift." unemployed or not.

 

i would just suggest to you that THIS is the start of your icky feelings. either return the money or put the same amount aside for your daughter ONLY and move on.

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Old 01-02-2012, 08:23 PM
 
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Thanks for your kind words, prone and blessed! hug.gif It's something I've given a lot of thought to ...

 

Lovepickles, You can certainly tell her, politely, "we, as a family have decided that we do not want to focus on material things. We are so grateful for your generosity in the past, but we respectfully ask that in the future, if you want to give something for our daughter, you make a contribution to your favorite charity."

 

I don't know, however if that is going to solve your problem.

 

In just a few short years, your daughter is going to have a mind of her own and she may very well beg you for those fairy wings, or - god forbid - to watch Miley Cyrus or some such horrible rot. You can't stop it forever. I think it's also about picking your battles. (In our house, Miley - no; fairy wings, yes.)

 

The other thing I figured out was to make sure to give my inlaws the special gift idea - the thing I knew she really wanted most of all. "Wow she LOVES Legos. Could you please get her those for Christmas - that would make you the hero of the day!" That way they felt good, my kid got something she wanted and something I approved of. Poof! Everyone is happy!

 

Oh and I totally get the passive aggressive side of it. I've had my inlaws try to goad my kids into eating meat (we are vegetarian,) and suggest that my infant son was "some kind of fag," for wearing Robeez slippers. eyesroll.gif

 

I feel your pain here. It's clear you're struggling. Tropicana has excellent advice about meditating about this for a time.


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Old 01-03-2012, 09:18 AM
 
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I'm a good person, a moral person.

 

I'm legally married. My husband has a girlfriend. We do not consider ourselves to be "married," but legally divorcing is not in anyone's best interest at this time. We share the same home and are continuing to parent our kids respectfully and with great care for each other.

 

I say this to gently remind the OP that no one outside of any relationship can judge that relationship. Divorce is often fiscally a nightmare for all parties, and particularly with age, things like retirement accounts are greatly impacted. As long as FIL's GF is a good person, it doesn't matter if your FIL is divorced or not- it's not any of your concern. If anything, I'm excited that my kids are exposed to a loving, healthy relationship, even if it's not between DH and me. As others have said, love is never a bad thing- the more people your kids have in their lives who care about them, the better!


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Old 01-03-2012, 09:20 AM
 
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Oops- I misread- it's your FIL's GF who is still married.

 

My point stands- you don't know the details of her relationships and it's typically poor form to judge, as even if you think you have all the facts, you don't.


Doctors aren't out to kill you or your children. Childbirth isn't inherently safe. Science is actually smarter than your intuition. Lighten up. Use sunscreen.

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Old 01-03-2012, 12:03 PM
 
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There is really no win win situation. If she was close family you could discuss your toy preferences for your daughter. But she is not and doing so is only going to make the situation worse. So, take the high road rather than picking a fight. She acted kindly whether you appreciate it or not whether you like her gift or not and whether you like her relationship with your father or not. Gift givers should be thanked.

 

Write a thank you note and donate the gifts you don't like to charity.

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Old 01-03-2012, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ErinYay- I've read your other post here: (deleted link) and I do respect that there are various situations that lead to unusual relationships. I'm fine with many nuances so long as all parties are treated with dignity and respect. The case of FIL and his girlfriend is not one that contains either of these beyond the couple in question. As family of the "lover" we are expected to host them as a couple and be privy to their affections and when in the presence of her husband and her children we are not to allude to any of this. It puts me in a very uncomfortable spot and I feel that as a daughter in law the respect due to my husbands father is expected to outweigh all but I am not in agreement with the position they have placed us in. This is not a relationship that I am comfortable maintaining on my own and it will certainly not be "grandfathered" in to another generation. IF (and this is a very big IF) FIL and girlfriend were honest to all about their arrangement and treated her husband with the respect he deserves and obtained his consent, among other respectful treatments due, I would feel differently about my relationship with them both and would feel comfortable participating in the OPEN acknowledgement of their relationship. Please understand that I am sitting in judgement over being asked to pretend that I am not aware of a cheating spouse for 5+ years, not open marriages in general.

 

Tropicana- Yes the money was accepted by my husband and as his wife, I, by default, accepted it too. I'm a bit thrown by the ADULT comment as it implies that our acceptance of this money was juvenile in some manner but your post seems to have been written quickly and I may have misunderstood your meaning. My husband felt very strongly that it would have been disrespectful to his father not to accept it. I disagreed but he pulled the "my side of the family so my rules" card. Given our financial situation at the time I was in no real position to argue either. The girlfriend got my cell phone and called me twice about purchasing a nursing chair for me but I explained to her very respectfully, twice, that we were fine and didn't have room for one. I thanked her for the thought but that a gift wasn't necessary. A few days after her last call she wrote that check to my husband. Financially we were not in a position to put the money into a savings account for her and this may get a negative response but my financial responsibilities in order are as follows: immediate need, emergency savings, retirement THEN saving for college. Children shouldn't have college funds started when the parents don't have an emergency fund. Also parents shouldn't save for college ahead of their own retirement as college can be funded in other ways but retirement can't. But I digress.

 

My general update is that I did write her a fairly generic thank you card. I agree with most that it isn't worth making a larger issue out of so my plan is to deprive the relation of room to grow. I thanked her for the thought and wished her a happy new year. I omitted the usual thank you card statements about how much DD loves the gift and any mention of a future visit. Ultimately, I decided on an indirect approach that discourages the relationship with slow neglect. I plan on keeping our distance and in general introducing scheduling conflicts when we are expected to host or visit when she is involved. This approach is foreign to me but I'm employing it as a tactic to keep the peace with my husband and not interfere directly with his relationship with his father but I'm sure there will be some fallout. We declined a visit this last week from FIL and girlfriend due to some other minor inconvenience so next week his father is visiting on his own. This should get us through for another 6 months or so and we'll figure it out as we go along.

 

Ladies I sincerely appreciate the time you took to respond to my dilemma. Although I am not in agreement with all of the advice it is kind of everyone to take a moment to respond. Thank you.

 

hug.gif


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Old 01-03-2012, 06:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lovepickles View Post

ErinYay- I've read your other post here: http://www.MODSPLEASETAKECAREOFTHIS.COM and I do respect that there are various situations that lead to unusual relationships. I'm fine with many nuances so long as all parties are treated with dignity and respect. The case of FIL and his girlfriend is not one that contains either of these beyond the couple in question. As family of the "lover" we are expected to host them as a couple and be privy to their affections and when in the presence of her husband and her children we are not to allude to any of this. It puts me in a very uncomfortable spot and I feel that as a daughter in law the respect due to my husbands father is expected to outweigh all but I am not in agreement with the position they have placed us in. This is not a relationship that I am comfortable maintaining on my own and it will certainly not be "grandfathered" in to another generation. IF (and this is a very big IF) FIL and girlfriend were honest to all about their arrangement and treated her husband with the respect he deserves and obtained his consent, among other respectful treatments due, I would feel differently about my relationship with them both and would feel comfortable participating in the OPEN acknowledgement of their relationship. Please understand that I am sitting in judgement over being asked to pretend that I am not aware of a cheating spouse for 5+ years, not open marriages in general.

 

 

1) Please don't post direct links to other's posts, particularly ones that contain sensitive information and will now be referenced by google for multiple searches. It's not that big of a deal, but it's really quite impolite.

 

2) All anyone other than our very close friends and family knows is that we're married and he has a girlfriend. That's it. Maybe they think I'm being treated poorly or that his GF is a family-destroying hussy. Who knows? They don't know we're officially separating. They don't know our issues. What I'm saying is: you do. Not. Know. Their situation. 
 

 


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Old 01-04-2012, 01:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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ErinYay:

 

1) I have deleted the link to your other post. I do not appreciate the suggestion that moderators should censor parts of my post. I linked because you referenced your situation in this post and I found it by looking at your prior posts. I actually linked because I wanted you to know that I cared enough to read about what you were referring to. I apologize if my link to your post was offensive.

 

2) If I were attacking extramarital affairs or your specific situation I could imagine this response would make sense. However, this post is about ME and MY awkward participation in their LIE to her husband and her children and how uncomfortable I am accepting gifts from this woman. It is about how I don't want my daughter to be involved in this LIE and how I don't want to explain to her that sometimes it is ok to refer to this woman as her grandfather's girlfriend so long as her children and husband aren't around.

 

Honestly, I think you are going through a very sensitive time and you are choosing to see more in my post than what is really there. Your responses don't really fit my situation but I hope you've had the opportunity to work out some of your frustration in the process. Best of luck to you.

 


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Old 01-04-2012, 05:39 AM
 
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ErinYay your info is out there for anyone to see - you can view your profile and see your posts - if there isn't something "out there" you don't want others to see - do not post it-FYI


 

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Old 01-04-2012, 06:49 AM
 
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serenbat- I know how the internet works, thanks.

 

OP- I'm not upset at all- I'm still getting used to the old TOU not being in place- in the days of yore, we were to *never* post links to other posts.

 

I think you're in a tough situation, but there are going to be lots and lots of tough situations. In the OP, there was no indication that you were being asked to cover for FIL's GF *to* her husband and kids. I agree that changes things somewhat- it's a crappy position to be put in. As others have said, you are kind of stuck.

 

That said, your feelings and relationship with your FIL's GF is separate from your kids' relationship with her. Refer to her as "FIL's friend," and be nice to her. That's all you can do, short of cutting her out of your kids' lives fully.


Doctors aren't out to kill you or your children. Childbirth isn't inherently safe. Science is actually smarter than your intuition. Lighten up. Use sunscreen.

ErinYay is offline  
 

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