How Do I Ask a Close Friend’s Husband to Be Our Sperm Donor?

My wife and I are women in our early 30s, and we would like to have a baby soon. One of my best friends has a very handsome husband. I mentioned to her that we would like to conceive our baby using his sperm. She seemed to agree — but did so as if in jest. What is the best way to broach this subject again, but more seriously this time? Should we ask in person because of the intimate nature of the request? Or should we write an email, so they have time to process and respond without pressure?


Flashing yellow light! I urge you and your wife to slow down. Do you really want to complicate your relationship with a close friend and her husband simply because he’s handsome and hanging around? Even assuming he has other qualities that are (arguably) more important than his looks — intelligence, good health or a killer fashion sense — you seem to be placing too great a premium on convenience here.

You don’t say whether you want the husband to play any role in your child’s life. If so, there are many issues to decide with your wife before speaking to anyone. (A good family lawyer can help with that.) And if you don’t want the biological father involved, why use the husband of a close friend? You would put him in the awkward position of seeing the child without saying anything about their relationship. There are plenty of good-looking, anonymous donors at sperm banks who have been screened for medical conditions.

Now, you may see this request as less freighted than I do. If you decide to proceed, make a date to meet the couple in person. (Yes, an email is too remote for so sensitive a question.) Make a clear proposal for them to consider. Be prepared to answer their questions, but tell them you don’t expect an immediate answer. It’s a big ask, and I would avoid making it until you’ve considered every angle.

I was seated on an airplane in front of two boys in their early teens. They fought for most of the flight, kicking my seat repeatedly. I tolerated it. After the plane landed, one of them kicked my seat so hard I saw stars! I stood up and said loudly, “Would you please stop kicking my seat?” The kid replied, “I only kicked it four or five times.” As the family filed out, the mother said to me nastily, “Next time, be polite.” Was I wrong to speak up?


When I was a boy, a thousand years ago, nearly any adult could discipline a child who was misbehaving, and our parents generally expected us to fall in line. This may have been your experience, too. Still, I am surprised you haven’t noticed that many parents object to strangers’ correcting their children these days.

Next time, speak to the parent sooner: “Your son is kicking my seat. Can you ask him to stop, or switch seats with him, please?” The situation may not end any better, but you may be less aggravated if you act faster. If the parent is unable or unwilling to control her child, ask the flight attendant to reseat you.

My mother is 91 and lives alone. Several caring relatives bring her food regularly. The problem: She doesn’t like a lot of it and won’t eat it — particularly food brought by one relative. I hate the thought of wasting food and this relative’s time and money. There are a few things on her trays my mother will eat. I think we should tell our relative politely, but my mother thinks that would be rude. Thoughts?


Here’s my take: A one-time gift of homemade food we don’t care for — a tray of lasagna or brownies — can often be rerouted, without a word to the chef (other than thanks). A friend, neighbor or service provider may take it.

Here, though, your relative is trying to be part of your mother’s care team. Let her! Thank her for the trays, singling out the items your mother likes and telling the relative that your mother has lost the taste for certain other things. I don’t think a reasonable person would be upset. Still, defer to your mother: She is older, not incompetent. If she wants to keep quiet, encourage her to donate unwanted food to programs for the hungry — perhaps through a faith community or senior center.

I take my dog running with me. Shortly after we start out, she does her business. I put the poop in a bag, but there are no trash receptacles in our neighborhood. So, I leave the bag on the sidewalk, intending to pick it up on my way home. More often than not, though, the bag is gone! One of my neighbors must pick it up. I feel embarrassed, but I don’t want to start a conversation about this. Advice?


Start a conversation about this. I get the problem, but silence here is bad citizenship. If you know who is collecting the bags, thank your helpful neighbor. Explain your predicament and commitment to picking them up on your way home. If you aren’t sure about your good Samaritan, attach a Post-it note to the bags: “I promise to pick this up in 30 minutes.”

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.