Ask Amy

Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 12:00am

DEAR AMY: Recently, my parents had a family dinner at our house, and after dinner my older sister's boyfriend decided to light some fireworks.

My boyfriend and I, my sister and her boyfriend and our parents stood in front of the house watching.

About 15 minutes in, a new neighbor approached my older sister's boyfriend. The neighbor didn't even get to say hello before the boyfriend started yelling at him. The neighbor began to say that his infant child had been sick and that they were trying to get her to sleep.

My sister was pleading with her boyfriend to stop yelling at the man, but that made him more angry.

We stood there completely in shock. The boyfriend wouldn't come into the house, and the neighbor left.

I feel horrible. This new neighbor didn't do anything wrong and got chewed out.

I live at home with my parents, but my older sister lives with her boyfriend. I told my mother we should go over to the neighbor's house with flowers from our garden and try to explain that we don't condone that behavior. I also don't want my sister to feel embarrassed about her boyfriend's behavior when she's around us.

— Exploding Embarrassed

DEAR EXPLODING:
I don't like the idea of apologizing for other people's actions but, because this happened at your home and because the perpetrator was a guest of your family's, your parents should apologize to the neighbor. Flowers from the garden would be a good start.

More important is the issue of your sister's situation. She is living with a hothead who seems out of control. I'm sure your parents are quite worried about this relationship — as they should be.

You should all take this incident very seriously and urge your sister to reconsider her relationship with this volatile and angry guy.


DEAR AMY:
I am a nurse and worked for a doctor for 34 years. He gave me a generous severance. My son stole most of it because he is a drug addict. He is in rehab now and is OK so far.

Then my husband of 27 years moved out because he feels he is "not good at marriage." He has been distant to me since his own retirement five years ago.

My daughter lives two states away. We have a hard time talking to each other. She is close to her father.

I feel as if I have been a good wife and mother and don't know what went wrong. I have a group of friends with whom I can enjoy sports and cultural events, but the loss of my family is consuming me. Any advice about how to get through this?

— Sad Mom

DEAR SAD: Aside from providing the lyrics for countless country-western ballads, these challenging periods offer us opportunities for growth and change. It's hard to see it that way when you've just been pummeled, but in life, we either adjust or we remain stuck in our sadness.

Your could start by doing some soul-searching to see what you should take responsibility for and what you should let go. Give yourself the fresh start that each of us deserves.

Let your healthy relationships sustain and propel you. Seek opportunities to work — or volunteer — helping those less fortunate than you.

Your nursing skills would be appreciated at any number of organizations. Being useful to others will make you feel better about yourself.


DEAR AMY: Responding to "Mom," who was confronted over her toddler's store tantrum, I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a retail shop and heard a child screaming at the top of his/her lungs while the mother, totally ignoring this behavior, continued to shop.

I have two teenagers, a 14- and a 15-year-old. They were toddlers at one time, and if one started to have an outburst, I would not have "continued to shop" out of courtesy to others.

No one wanted to hear my children, including me.

— Tired of Tantrums

DEAR TIRED:
I agree that screaming children should be scooped up and removed from the "scene of the crying" as soon as possible.

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