Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Angel in New Jersey

I have had a steady boyfriend for about four and a half years now. He is a great guy and I love him to death. We have in passing discussed moving in together and ultimately marriage. I love him to death but I can't stop feeling I don't deserve him or he's too good to be true. He talks about helping pay my way through college and so many other things. Is he too good to be true or are there men out there like this?

Living A Dream?

Dear Dream,

There really are men who love their girlfriends and are committed to them and want them to succeed. You lucky woman, you found one!

But it doesn't sound like you're entirely happy about it. You need to ask yourself why. Do you treat him poorly in return and feel guilty about it? Do you not have much self-confidence? Is he giving you indications that he will leave? Has someone you trust very much left you before?

Once you've figured it out, modify your behavior. This may involve counseling for one or both of you.

I think as long as you love each other and are honest and kind, you will succeed. Mazel tov!

Aunt Amy

Monday, February 26, 2007

Mommy's little girl?

I have been having a lot of issues with my mother lately. I am 24 years old and she still tries to live my life for me. She tries to influence my life directly or indirectly every decision I make, from going back to school to how I spend my time. I have never been able to stand up to her and I am constantly looking for her approval. I want my own life but I do not know how to stand up to her or sever connections with her. Any suggestions?

Looking for Approval

Dear Looking,

Some parents never quite understand that their little ones have grown up. Sometimes that's because their children still live with them (their house, their rules, etc.), and sometimes it's because they are a little jealous.

You read that right. Jealous. Your description of your mother reminds me of the stereotypical Mother of the Bride. The MOTB is thrilled that her daughter is getting married, and wants to make sure that everything is perfect and up to her standards. So she demands the white roses, catering, wedding cake, venue...stop me if you've heard this before. The reason that MOTBs fall into this trap is because their mothers probably didn't let them plan anything either.

But back to your situation. You didn't mention if you still live at home, but if you do, the first step to getting your mom off your back is to move out on your own. This may be difficult if you're returning to school, but you'll have to weigh the price of freedom against her nagging. After you've moved out, you can then implement a few tricks to help get her off your back.

1. She can only make suggestions to you. Your mom can't have a bearing on who you're dating, where you're working or where you're living if she isn't somehow monetarily involved. When she says "I want" or "I think" or "You should," remember that she can't actually make the choice. So unless you're about to do something very harmful to your family or yourself, you do not have to take her suggestions into consideration. You merely have to listen to them politely.

2. You don't have to tell her everything. You say that your mom tries to tell you how to spend your time. Presuming you're not pulling an Evil Knievel, she doesn't need to be informed about your every move. You have a cell phone, right? She can call if she needs you. If you do feel the need to tell her what you're up to, do just that. Just tell her. It is not a topic up for conversation, merely a polite gesture to let her know you'll be out of the area for a while.

3. Every once in a while, take her suggestion. You don't want your mom to think that you're completely ignoring her, and frankly, she probably has some good ideas every once in a while. Don't ignore her opinion, but don't always feel pressured to share it.

Unless your mother is being abusive and toxic, I don't think cutting off ties is a smart idea. You can stand up for yourself without telling her off but by making your own choices. She may never approve of your choices, but at least you can make her feel like her opinions were heard.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Taking out the trash

My landlords are very kind when it comes to garbage disposal. They take my and my roommate's trash and recyclables to the town dump every week, thus sparing us the expense of a registration sticker. Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Landlord are woefully unacquainted with local and state-wide recycling policies -- specifically, that all transfer stations must have receptacles for paper and non-corrugated cardboard. They insist that the local dump does not recycle these materials. Should my roommate and I continue to send our paper waste off with the rest of the trash, or confront our landlords with a copy of the local and state recycling regulations? Or should we just suck it up and get our own dump sticker (we'd still have to explain this choice to the landlords)?

Environmentally Conscious

Dear Conscious,

The thing about laws is that not every business follows them. That’s obvious when I see the health inspection reports for local restaurants and discover they don’t have thermometers for their hot buffet lines. It is entirely possible that the dump doesn’t make that kind of recycling available and no one has called them on it.

But I don’t really think that’s the situation here. It’s a lot more plausible that Mr. and Mrs. Landlord don’t know where these drop-off points are at the dump or that they feel they are being kind enough to take all of your trash and recyclables that they don’t have to keep everything separated. As an environmentalist, you obviously feel differently.

Here are your options as I see them: stop recycling cardboard and paper and try to reuse them in your own home, or confront them with state and local laws at risk of them becoming offended and making you get your own sticker, or get your own sticker and tell them you don’t want to burden them with the task of hauling your trash. Two out of three of these options have the potential for you and your roommate to have to pony up some cash, so think wisely.

Aunt Amy