Ask Amy

Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 9:05pm

DEAR AMY: I am a 24-year-old single mom with a young son.

I was dating a young military man and thought I was in love, so I moved with my son to the town where he was stationed. Things were great until he came back from deployment. Then things went downhill; he lost his temper with my son, and he would lose his temper with me daily.

He asked me to leave and go back to my mom's (which is 10 hours from where we were living) and I left the next day. Now he is begging me to come back, complaining about how much this hurts him.

Considering all the garbage I put up with when we were together (he cheated, lied, got physical and acted like I was his maid) I was not happy — but my son was. I know I deserve better, but my son is attached to him.

Which is more important — my child being happy or me being happy?

What should I do?

— Conflicted Mom

DEAR CONFLICTED: Your son should come first.

That's why you have to be the best mom possible — and create and maintain a stable, healthy home life. You should not move your son anywhere or live with anyone until you have lengthy and extensive evidence that the man is stable, wonderful and will be in your lives forever. Until then, date — don't live with someone.

You promoted your son's attachment to this man by moving him across the country to form a family.

The child doesn't have the judgment to discern healthy from unhealthy relationships. It is your job to teach him. I hope you have male friends and family members who could be great friends and role models for him.

Your son could never be happy long term if you were being mistreated. And that's the beauty of the family system — if you do it right, everybody wins.

DEAR AMY: My fiance and I are in the process of planning our wedding, but we've encountered a lot of interference from his side of the family. They have never been particularly fond of me and have had difficulties accepting our engagement because we are so young.

We will be paying for the majority of the wedding ourselves (with a little help from my parents) and were hoping for a small and intimate wedding — a nice sit-down dinner with only immediate family and close friends.

However, his family is insisting we invite their extended family, which numbers over 150 people! This is a far cry from the small wedding we had in mind.

My fiance wants to go ahead and invite the extended family in order to pacify them, but finances are a big issue here. Is there a classy way to suggest financial assistance from his family?

Would it be extremely tacky to ask people to pay for their own dinners?

— Befuddled Bride-to-be

DEAR BEFUDDLED: I actually agree with your fiance's parents — you are too young to get married because you are obviously not mature enough or self-confident enough to avoid being steamrolled.

The beauty of financing your own wedding is that it provides a built-in and "classy" way to respond to family members who want to bring 150 guests along with them.

You simply say, "We're planning the wedding we can afford, and we can't afford that."

You should not ask your guests to pay for their own dinners. If you want to expand your guest list many-fold, you should plan something more affordable.

DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from "Frustrated and Disappointed" about a friend who wouldn't clean up her snack mess at the movie theater, I worked at a multiplex to help get through college. We had 10 theaters to clean multiple times a day.

Just the amount of spilled popcorn could keep someone busy, (especially at kids' movies) and it was always so irritating to see families leave behind their trash just because they could.

Some would even point to it and mumble something about job security. It was degrading, frustrating and disrespectful.

— Also Frustrated

DEAR FRUSTRATED: I bet you always take your big gulp cup to the trash can.

Send questions via email to askamy@tribune.com. 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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