Ask Amy

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 10:05pm

DEAR AMY: I have a girlfriend who's African-American, and she is constantly referring to her job (on Facebook) as "The Plantation" and her bosses as "Overseers."

What (if anything) can I say to get her to understand this is degrading to her? What can I say to convince her that she is not a slave and that such comments are in poor taste?

— Touchy Subject

DEAR TOUCHY: Every company I have ever worked for has had a corporate office sometimes referred to by workers as the "Death Star." This doesn't mean the employees self-identify as members of the Rebel Alliance (or Wookies); it merely provides a way to vent and to identify as beleaguered cogs in the corporate wheel.

However, your friend's choice to use such racially-charged language to describe her employer and supervisors is not only degrading to her, but mainly degrading to them (this seems to be her point).

Not only is her language in poor taste, her employers might also want to know why she is choosing to refer to them in this way on this bulletin board within her social circle.

At the very least, your friend should be more circumspect — that is, if she wants to keep her job and/or get another one at some point in the future. Employers (and prospective employers) are increasingly patrolling their employees' or applicants' writings on social networking sites. Her status update reveals more about her than about her employer.

DEAR AMY: Our son-in-law has been offered a huge promotion that requires relocation to another state several hundred miles from their home.

Our daughter has (to our dismay) taken it upon herself to deny this move. They have a son entering high school in the fall who is an exceptional athlete and a young daughter who is an avid dancer. Our granddaughter is excited about the move; our grandson is definitely against it.

Our dear son-in-law is torn between satisfying his family and accepting this once-in-a-lifetime promotion. We are a close-knit family. We spend a lot of time with our daughter and her children, but we fully support his decision to relocate. We believe they should take this wonderful opportunity and have expressed our views.

This has alienated us from our daughter.

What can we do to change her view on this move?

— Upset Parents

DEAR PARENTS: If you asked most teens if they wanted to uproot their lives and move across the country, they would say no. But if you surveyed these same teens after a move, a decent percentage of them would have adjusted just fine.

The parents involved should ask all family members (including you) for your views, but the parents should make the final decision, and the children (and you) will just have to accept their choice.

This couple should have kept their own negotiations private to present a more or less united decision. Obviously, they have not done this, and your son-in-law has either enlisted you as lobbyists or you have taken it upon yourselves.

You should not endeavor to change your daughter's mind — even if you are convinced that she is making a mistake. She may have her own very legitimate reasons to stay put, and there could be even more interesting professional opportunities for your son-in-law down the pike.

Wise parents do not insert themselves into their adult children's drama. By doing so, you undermine not only your daughter, but the whole family system.

DEAR AMY: As a former child-support prosecutor, I wanted to pass on some additional advice for "Broke New Mom," who had a question about child support.

She can seek assistance from her local Child Support Enforcement Agency, which provides free child support enforcement services to everyone.

The local Child Support Enforcement Office will pursue both in-state and out-of-state noncustodial parents to establish paternity, establish child support amount and wage garnishment to ensure regular payment.

So, even if her boyfriend resides in another state, her local Child Support Enforcement office can help her. An Internet search of "Child Support Enforcement" and her state should come up with the necessary contact information.

— Carolann


Send questions via email to Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

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