Saturday, April 28, 2007

Seeking sister

About three months ago, my sister met this guy on MySpace and added him to her AIM friends. He keeps sending her IMs calling her a whore and other names. Yesterday, she was on her way home from the drugstore and he saw her and started following her, trying to get her to pull over. She said he had to floor it to get rid of him.

What should she do?

Concerned brother

Dear Concerned,

Ironically, this same situation is sort of happening to one of my co-workers right now, except for the name-calling and violence. Instead the guy is just telling her that he sees her in certain places where she has actually been, and that's enough to creep us both out.

But this has reached far beyond merely chatting on IM. This guy doesn't really know her. He's calling her bitch and slut and whore without knowing her. Now he's actually trying to stalk her. No wonder your brother radar is going off. This guy is no good!

I think it's time for your sister to completely cut off contact with this guy. He needs not to be able to see her MySpace or IM name. If he finds her, she needs to floor it to the police station. Make sure she gets his license plate number, especially if she doesn't know his last name.

In the future, make sure she isn't giving away all of her personal information to someone she doesn't know on the Internet. I suspect that is how he was able to get so close.

Aunt Amy

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Helping him through

I am sure, of course, that you (along with everyone else in this county and many others) have heard about what happened at Virginia Tech this week. It is sad and depressing and the source of my problem.

My boyfriend attends there and I don't. I live several hours away and work full time, so although we try very hard to keep in touch (and have been doing fairly well), this new stress has brought with it unprecedented trouble.

He is a civil/environmental engineering major. As such, he was friendly with many of the under and graduate students and several of the teachers were killed in the shooting. His favorite professor was one of them. While my boyfriend was not in Norris Hall (one of the locations in which shootings occurred), he was, of course, struck by all this.

I am heading down there Thursday night, but I do not know what I can possibly say or do besides the basic, mundane, meaningless platitudes that might help. Do you have any suggestions to help me help him through this?

Caring Girlfriend

Dear Caring,

I am sorry to hear that your boyfriend had some experience with the Virginia Tech shootings. I think you're being a very kind girlfriend to want to be there with him, especially since the first thing you need to do is just be there.

Actively listen to what he has to say, and be compassionate. That includes not criticizing what he has to say, or talking about the media accounts of all of this. I doubt anyone on that campus wants to get into a gun control debate ala Rosie.

Also, avoid any of the following phrases:
  • "I know just how you feel."
  • "I am sorry for your loss."
  • "You are holding up so well."
  • "Time will heal all wounds."
  • "At least they didn't feel pain."

There is nothing worse than cliches in a time like this, so if you can't think of anything to say, just rub his back or hug him or otherwise show you care. You might consider bringing some comfort food with you (dorm kitchens are crap for making cookies). As Jews have learned from shiva, food sometimes helps.

You know your boyfriend better than most people. Pay attention to his signals. And don't be afraid to take a few moments for yourself when you two are apart. You're walking onto a grieving campus, and becoming overwhelmed by it doesn't help.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Moving baby and me

I'm 18 years old, and I'm graduating high school this year. I have a son and my parents have guardianship of him. I gave it to them for health insurance only.

My 19-year-old boyfriend of a year and 6 months recently got a job offer in Louisiana. I live in Indiana. The job starts off at $50,000 and maxes out at $100,000, and is something he has always wanted to do. He will never make this much money in any other profession, and I would like to move with him.

I understand it may not work out between us, but that's risk everyone takes. He is not the baby's father, but he might as well be. He has been there for my son and I for a long time. He will be able to fully provide for my son, my college, health insurance and everything else I need.

But I think my parents will hate the idea so much that they may not give my son back to me. They will think I am being selfish and taking him away from them. The only thing that makes me think they won't take him away is that they would not actually have to take care of him. They're very busy taking care of their rental properties. Also, my dad went through this situation with my real mom when I was two years old.

I think my boyfriend and I are more mature than most people our age. Really, I am just trying to do what's best for what I feel is my new family. It's a little soon to move but this a chance that will probably never come up again. It will benefit all of our futures.

My boyfriend and I are planning to just talk to a lawyer to see where we stand, but how do I talk to my family? Is there anything I could say to make them less angry? How can I show them this will benefit my son? Do you think this is a bad thing to do?

Mother May I?

Dear Mother,

Simply put, probably. But let me explain.

You have a chance to move away with your long-term boyfriend. In your e-mail, you described your relationship as strong. It sounds like he is supportive of you and your son, and intends to keep supporting you if you come with him. Let's start with that.

There is just one problem with this situation: he is not legally obligated to support you. It sounds like he's willing to pay for child care while you continue your education, but he doesn't have to do that. What happens if things go bad? Will you have a savings account all your own in case you need to leave him? Will your parents take you back at home? Essentially, you are a single mother with a support system in your parents house. He is neither the baby's father nor your husband, and he's asking you to move to a place where you have no ties. You will need money or an extra job or something just in case. And please, please don't think it could never happen to you. So many single mothers have faced similar situations and found themselves without help, and having a plan will make it more likely that your parents will let your son go.

Now that I've stated this, let's say you've already planned for that possibility and are ready to leave after June. I agree that you need to see legal counsel in case your parents use their status over your child as a bargaining chip. After you speak with an attorney, you and your boyfriend need to sit down with your parents. Your boyfriend needs to calmly explain that he is moving and why and to what. You then need to explain that you would like to go with him, and tell them how you've prepared for this. All of you will need to discuss these topics before you discuss your son's guardianship.

If this doesn't end well as you have imagined it, you may need to pay for an attorney to force your parents' hand. I do not recommend this, however, unless as a last resort. Family issues are best dealt with internally at first.

Your parents can't prevent you from leaving the state with your boyfriend, but they can prevent your child from leaving, and I bet you really don't want to leave him behind. If you approach this as maturely as you say you are, I think you will find the outcome will be favorable.

Aunt Amy

Friday, April 13, 2007

Getting her to like me

I really like this girl a lot. The Thursday before my spring break, I wrote her a letter about my feelings to her. Then she came up to me and said she doesn't want be in a relationship with anyone right now.

But 3-4 weeks before that, one of our friends told her that I liked her and she confronted me and wanted to talk about it, but then I got shy and walked away. I have a shyness problem I'm working to get over it. I've also tried getting her phone number, but she totally overlooked that.

I'm wondering how can I get her interested in me and have a relationship with me? We really don't know each other besides our names.

Boy in Lust

Dear Boy,

How to get a girl to like you, huh? It really starts with pheromones, a chemical triggered by all humans and creatures in response to another member of the species. But in your case, you're hoping to bag a girlfriend by changing the reaction in her head and heart, not her nose. And you're definitely fixated on this one.

Despite being one myself, I can't tell you how to attract girls, because there is no one real way. Everyone is attracted to something different, like good guys and bad guys. Some like tall guys, some like ones with long hair. I like intelligent men.

Most women at least like to know something about a guy they want to date, so I think your first step is to actually get to know this girl. Show her your awesome side. Be kind to her. And find out about her too, because it might turn out you aren't as attracted to her as you thought.

And if you do figure out the magic key to getting a girl to like you, write back. I bet my readers would love to know.

Aunt Amy

Monday, April 09, 2007

An unwanted situation

I'm in my late twenties and have been married for 3 years. My husband and I have high-paying jobs and would easily be able to give a child everything he wants. The problem is that I don't like children, and my husband knew that from the start. He said he would be happy to give up having children if it meant being with me forever.

We have taken every precaution possible short of surgery, but I am now eight weeks pregnant, and I don't want this baby. It’s going to ruin everything. All of my hopes and dreams for the future will go down the drain. I feel like I'm being punished.

Although I don't want kids, my husband doesn't want an abortion. He said he wouldn't be able to get past it because he considers this baby a miracle. My parents and my best friend who's been trying to conceive for four years think I'm being selfish, but they're not the ones who will have to deal with a screaming baby when it arrives. Adoption isn't an option because my husband refuses to let someone else raise his child when he can do it.

Having the baby, divorcing him and letting him raise it is out of the question for me because of the way everyone will look at me for abandoning my child when I never wanted it in the first place. Why can't anyone accept my decision? Why should I have to lose everything because of a baby I never wanted in the first place?

Not the Momma

Dear Not,

Not everyone was meant to be a mother, for one reason or another. They may have a mental illness that would make them an unfit parent, a general dislike for all children or a lifestyle unsuited to having a baby. When it comes to you, you don't want children and your husband has agreed to that. You both have taken an extraordinary amount of precautions barring ones your doctor will not allow. And yet, you have become pregnant.

I always find it a little strange when people assess situations using factors that aren't in front of them. That baby doesn't exist yet, and yet your husband would be willing to sacrifice his marriage for it because it might come into existence. He's ignoring your wishes that he agreed to in favor of you becoming an incubator for a future son or daughter. I think your husband does want children, and here is his chance.

I think you made a mistake in telling your family about the pregnancy early on. You must have known they would try to convince you otherwise. Your sister wants a child, and your mother had children, so she can't relate to you.

You need to do some soul-searching here. First ask yourself if you really never want children. Most careers can co-exist with kids, although I think that's not the problem here. Once you're sure you don't want children, you need to sit down with your husband. Having children is a make-or-break clause in a long-term relationship. If he really wants that child, he will be raising it himself, without you. And he'll be asking you to be a long-term incubator for it. Is that his intention? No matter what, to get what you want (no children), something will have to be sacrificed unless he is willing to change his mind.

If you do go the abortion route, you need to consider whether or not you'll tell your family that it happened as opposed to saying you lost it. You seem to want to avoid conflict in this situation, but it's going to be hard without a few well-placed lies.

Aunt Amy