Ask Amy

Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 9:05pm

DEAR AMY: Tattoos don't repulse me, but I don't like them.

Almost a year ago, I completely fell in love with my current long-term boyfriend. He has a few tattoos: one on the inside of his wrist, and two on his inner arm. His tattoos aren't pointless or simply for decoration. They have special meaning to him, and they don't bother me.

However, now he has decided to get a half-sleeve of tattoos.

I don't particularly want his arms to be covered in artwork, but I know there's nothing I can do about it. I haven't told him that I'd rather him not get more tattoos because I don't want to be a controlling girlfriend who makes all of her boyfriend's decisions. I also don't want to hurt his feelings.

I know it's his body and he can do what he desires with it, and I probably shouldn't be interfering at all, but I can't help but think that this will somehow spiral out of control.

I don't want to date a guy who is covered in tattoos. I also have a fairly conservative family, and I don't want them to think any less of him.

Should I tell him that I'm not in favor of him getting more tattoos? And if so, what should I say to make sure he knows I'm not forcing anything?

— Unsure

DEAR UNSURE: You convey a solid realization that you cannot control your boyfriend and that he has the absolute right to do what he wishes with his own body.

You can, however, weigh in. Tattoos are privately chosen but publicly viewed.

Let's imagine what it would be like if you didn't say anything in advance and your boyfriend's half-sleeve did, in fact, repulse you.

You: "I really hate your ink."

He: "Gee, do you think you might have mentioned this before I spent hours under the gun?"

You can say, "You may know that I'm not a huge fan of lots of tattoos. But I am a huge fan of yours. I'm not sure how I'll react to all of your new ink, but if it's what you really want, I'll do my best to embrace it."

DEAR AMY: I have a son in his early 20s who currently works two jobs that pay slightly above minimum wage.

He has completed less than one year of technical college, but he has shown no interest in returning to college. He would rather work than go to school.

My husband and I own a rental home, which we rent for $600.

Our son desperately wants to rent it when it becomes available but for a reduced rate, and I am OK with reducing the rent by $200 for him.

I believe family should help family no matter what, and with his lack of education I don't believe his income will increase any time soon. The profession he has chosen does not come with high pay or benefits.

Do you think reducing the rent would be enabling our son?

I have been accused of doing this in the past and I don't want to. I've tried to instill in him the value of independence.

— Wondering Mom

DEAR MOM: If you had really instilled the value of independence, your son wouldn't expect you to reduce the rent on this house by one third! All the same, you could help him by waiving the upfront first and last month's rent payment normally required for renters.

Otherwise, do everything by the book, with a signed lease, etc. Let him know that if his rent doesn't arrive or the check doesn't clear, he'll have to move.

Your son sounds like a hard-working guy; he should find an equally hard-working and responsible roommate.

DEAR AMY: You've discussed how to enforce curfews with college-age kids at home for the summer.

Our family settled this by setting an alarm clock on their pillow.

If they didn't get home at the agreed time, it would wake me up, and I'd phone their friends.

There was no need to worry or stay awake if they got home on time.

— Well Rested

DEAR RESTED: Clever!

Send questions via e-mail 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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