Ask Amy

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I am a new mother. My baby is 4 months old.

With the holidays just around the corner, I have many family members asking for the child's Social Security number because they would like to purchase savings bonds for the child.

In the past, my family has dealt with identity theft within the family, and I am not comfortable putting my child at risk.

What is the proper response to a family member asking for the Social Security number of the child to purchase savings bonds as gifts?

Not everyone in the family is aware of the past problems, and I don't want to make it sound as though I don't trust anyone, but I just don't want to risk the Social Security number getting in the wrong hands.

— Protective Mother

DEAR PROTECTIVE: You do not need a recipient's Social Security number to purchase a saving's bond as a gift — as long as the saving's bond is purchased in paper form (not electronic) through a financial institution.

If the bond is purchased online through the Treasury Department, the giver will set up an online account and will need the recipient's Social Security number to complete the transaction. For more information, check www.treasurydirect.gov.

I agree with your instinct to be careful with your child's Social Security number. Don't give it casually to anyone.

You need only to say to family members that you very much appreciate the gesture but that you've been advised to keep the baby's Social Security number private. Ask if they'd be willing to obtain a paper bond as a gift, and assure them you'll keep it secure.


DEAR AMY: I am in a 1-1/2-year-old relationship, and I have always hinted (OK — flat-out said) to my boyfriend that I like to receive flowers.

I also let him know that it's not the flower itself, but rather the fact that he was thinking of me enough in his off time to do something he knew I would like.

So far I have received flowers on my birthday (he patted himself on the back about that and made sure to let me know the lengths he went to get the best ones). One other time, when we were at the market, he had me pick out some flowers, so the element of surprise was not there.

I know I must come off as sounding greedy and ungrateful, and that really isn't the case.

I like to think of myself as a very thoughtful and quite generous person and wish my partner were a bit more like me in that area.

His answer is, "I want to get you flowers when I think about it, not because you asked me to."

At this rate, I'm not holding my breath.

I know this seems petty and I am trying to figure out why this bothers me so much.

Any thoughts?

— No Flowers

DEAR NO: It's strange, but the more you insist on how easy it would be to please you, the more obvious it is that you are not so easily pleased.

It sounds like a simple and straightforward matter to tell someone exactly what you would like to have him fulfill your reasonable gift demand.

And yet — people really don't like to be told what to do. Pressuring your boyfriend about this has created an unpleasant floral vortex of escalating demands.

This isn't really about flowers. This is about control. You and your guy are doing a little dance to determine who's in charge.

Ease up. If you want flowers, get them for yourself. Make yourself happy.


DEAR AMY: I'm enjoying the feedback from people about how they should refer to unmarried companions.

My late mother would tell people she and her male companion "shared an alarm clock." They were together for almost 20 years and traveled all over the world until her health failed.

I thought this was as good an answer as any, especially for folks in the "greatest generation."

— Judy in Chico, Calif.

DEAR JUDY: This is the first time I've heard this particular reference, and I like it very much. Thank you!

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Filed under: Lifestyles