DEAR AMY: My husband and I do not plan to have children for a few more years. We already know we are the "I only like my own kids" type of people.
My problem is, I don't want other people's kids at our house — ever — for any reason. The way we see it, when we have kids, we'll have kids over at our house for the rest of our lives. Until then I don't want there to even be a chance that something will get broken or ruined by undisciplined kids and negligent parents. When we have our own children, we can teach and discipline them as we see fit.
How can we politely find out if a friend is planning on bringing his/her kids to our place? Is there a polite way to tell people our house is a no-kid zone?
— No-Kid Zone
DEAR NO-KID: One way to prevent kids from invading your world is to convey to parents: "We only like our own children, but we don't have any, so that means we don't like any children — at least for now."
You have a right to keep your home a pristine castle, but your letter raises my hackles because you claim you want to have children and yet — you don't like them. So why plan to have kids? Parenthood is not for everyone.
You need to learn that the fullness of life is incubated in its messy places. Letting go of your iron-grip control will free you to surrender to surprise. And one of your surprises could be that not all kids are destructive little monsters hell-bent on breaking your stuff, and not all parents are neglectful nincompoops (although truly, where kids go, stains sometimes follow).
But that is beside the point. Right now, you need only tell your friends, "We'd really like for you to come over, but only if you can get a sitter."
DEAR AMY: Ten months ago, my boyfriend and I picked out an engagement ring together.
That was in June, and he still hasn't given the ring to me. Whenever I try to ask why he hasn't proposed yet, it turns into a big fight.
He says he isn't ready yet and is waiting for the perfect time. We have dated for 3-1/2 years and lived together for two years. He has been married before, so I feel maybe that has something to do with it, but he insists it doesn't.
I don't know how much longer I can sit back watching all my other friends get engaged and married. It's making me really angry toward him, and it really hurts me. I just want to know how long is too long to keep waiting.
— Eager to be Engaged
DEAR EAGER: I remember being eager, like you. Like you, I had a reluctant guy who just couldn't get off the dime. And being me, I found a way to force the issue. (If you wonder how all this turned out, you can ask my ex-husband.)
If your guy were ready, he would create his own perfect moment. You could probably crowbar him off of his perch, but if you do, he will enter marriage feeling coerced and controlled.
Succumbing to peer pressure to get married is the worst reason to enter into such an important and intimate state.
You need to sit down and talk to your guy. Stay calm. Don't pressure him about the ring. Tell him you understand and accept that he's not ready and take it off the table. Do you want to stay with him, unmarried and unengaged? If so, stay. Otherwise, if you want marriage, you will need to face the fact that you will probably have to find a different partner.
DEAR AMY: I have some advice for "Rejected Mom." She says she wants her kids to "feel loved and not rejected." Well, if so, then love them and do not reject them.
Do not expect others to provide the love and acceptance you desire for your own.
DEAR R: She also signed her letter "Rejected Mom," which told me that this was really more about her than her children.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.