Ask Athena: Acting Like Grownups

Learn to own your decisions and manage the fallout. 


Q: When an old college buddy and his girlfriend got married this summer, there was no food on my flight and I was starving when I got there. The vegan-keto buffet at their reception was more fancy than filling (and some of it was gross). So I ordered a pizza. Some guests saw me eating in my car and before I knew it, we had a pizza party going in the parking garage. I don’t know who tipped off the bride, but wow she was mad when she found us. Now she’s demanding I apologize for humiliating her. I say she owes ME an apology for being a control freak, and yelling at me in front of everyone. What say you, Athena?

A: Ouch. Athena thinks that you stepped out of line. You don’t owe her an apology for humiliating her. You owe her an apology for ordering pizza inside of the wedding venue. I understand the problem with the buffet but it was only one meal in your life. There are ways to pick out some edible items and keep yourself at bay. You should have known that the pizza party should not have happened.

That was everyone’s fault, not just yours. Each one of you could have said, “No, this is not right.” There should not be a side party at a wedding party. Everyone should have put on their big kid pants and gone back into the venue dreaming about having a nice slice. You could have all decided to after-party at a nearby bar that serves food.


Q: My 7 year old son often wants to wear a suit to casual gatherings, and a lot of times kids make fun of him which breaks my heart. His father (my ex) refuses to indulge him on the grounds that, as his parent, he’s protecting him from “looking weird” in public, which could “put a stigma on him,” and ruin his life. For me, it’s more about the dry cleaning bills. I’d love to insist suits are only for special occasions, but I don’t want to harsh his style. Help, I’m really torn and not thrilled about siding with my ex.

A: Athena always likes to side with nonconformity. Your son is expressing his identity through clothes. This is something that should be supported. I think your role is to alert him that other children may say mean things or make fun of him. If he decided to wear the suit anyway, he then has to live with the consequences. Part of your education of him is to talk about how people can be mean and how he should not ever take part in that himself. Think of the mean kids as not breaking your heart but as the demonstration of the strength and resilience of your child.

Now, about the dry cleaning. You can insist that he not play outdoors in a suit and that he tucks a napkin under his chin when he eats. He is taking on the responsibility of caring for this special piece of clothing.

Now, there is nothing you or I can do about his father. It is important that you not undermine him. Talk with your son about how you and your ex make different decisions and his father wants him to not wear his suit, so that’s the rule at his house. Tell him that when he is older, he can dress how he wants all the time.

You’ve got this momma. Just stay in your son’s court.

AGREE? DISAGREE? Please comment below.

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Read last month’s Ask Athena here.

About Athena 46 Articles
When she’s not advising mortals, Athena spends her time on earth in NW Philly with her husband, two sons and a day job where she’s paid to tell important people what to do (naturally). Send your questions to

1 Comment

  1. On both counts: spot on I’d say. The parents of the “formal kid” have a unique opportunity there. There is something very special going on in that kids head.

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