Ask Amy

Monday, November 2, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I'm a 12-year-old kid, and recently, when I was talking to one of my friends, she told me that her parents hit her.

I expressed my surprise, and she told me hitting was normal in her culture — she's African-American.

She said it's just discipline.

She then told me that her mom once beat her in an IKEA store with a scrub brush.

I feel I should tell someone, but I'm afraid that this will break off a really good friendship.

What should I do?

— Conflicted in Maryland

DEAR CONFLICTED: I don't think hitting is "normal" in any particular culture, but hitting, striking or spanking is used as a form of punishment in various families.

I agree with you that — no matter what you call it — hitting is wrong; furthermore violence is not an effective form of discipline.

People respond differently to being hit, depending on how the punishment is given. A parent who beats a child with a scrub brush in a superstore isn't in control of her anger, and even if your friend thinks this is normal, to me it sounds painful and humiliating.

You should ask your friend how she feels about being punished in this way. Don't box her into a corner where she feels she needs to defend her parents, but because you are her friend, it's OK to ask.

You should also speak to your parents. They may suggest speaking with the school counselor.

I agree with your instinct to tell an adult when you're faced with a dilemma. Grown-ups don't always know what to do, but we definitely want to help.


DEAR AMY: It has been a few months since I went on vacation without my boyfriend.

Before I left, things between us were not good.

I was unsure how he was feeling about me and was not too happy with my own life.

The trip was good, and the time spent apart was eye opening.

Now things are wonderful, but one thing nags me.

While I was gone I had too much to drink one night, walked off with a guy and allowed him to kiss me. It was very brief, and then it was over.

I was so intoxicated I don't really remember the whole situation.

I haven't told my boyfriend, and it still bothers me.

Is this something I should communicate to him if we are to have an open and honest relationship?

Or should I just move on?

— Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: There's a reason the catchphrase "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" has caught on.

There are some things that don't need to be dredged up, and I suggest you can have an open and honest relationship without discussing this.

Something similar might have happened to your boyfriend while you were away. Would you want to know about it?

This was a mistake on your part. Your choice to drink to the point that you don't really remember what happened means that you placed yourself in an extremely vulnerable and potentially dangerous situation.

This is the aspect of your behavior you should review and promise not to repeat.

You should move on.


DEAR AMY: In reference to "Stick to Your Guns," about the couple who didn't want to invite teenage cousins to their wedding, when I was a teenager I was omitted from the guest list for the wedding of a much older cousin.

I am now 78, and this is one of the few slights in my life that I still remember.

When making up a guest list, I would ask the couple to remember that these teenagers will grow up. They will be a part of the family for the rest of their lives. They may even attend their funerals. I would bet that there are people on their guest list that they won't even know five years down the road.

They should think about that.

— A


DEAR A: You make a great point — that friends can come and go, but family is forever. Teenagers become adults, and these slights are not easily forgotten.

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Filed under: Lifestyles

3 Comments on this post:

By: NewYorker1 on 11/3/09 at 7:24

In reference to "Stick to Your Guns, I get upset when people invite me to their weddings. I HATE weddings and I make it very clear to relatives and friends that I DO NOT attend weddings, funerals, or graduations. It ticks me off when I receive an invitation for these events and people already know how I feel about them.

By: BenDover on 11/3/09 at 8:07

Don't bring it up, Confused. Just put it behind you and move forward.

By: jps13pat on 11/3/09 at 12:44

This advice is worst than the "gay roomate" advice a few months back!!! Keeping secrets from your boyfriend?? Are you kidding me?!

First, drinking is not an excuse to cheat on your boyfriend. Second, being mad at your boyfriend is not an excuse to cheat on your boyfriend. Third, "it was just a kiss and it was short lived" is not an excuse to cheat on your boyfriend. Fourth, "he probably did the same thing while I was gone" is not an excuse to cheat on your boyfriend.

It's time for these two to face each other and own up to their problems instead of just masking it over like the rest of the world tends to do. If the relationship ends so be it. If that breaks that girls heart, perhaps she should have thought about that before getting trashed and pulling some guy into the corner.

If I were the boyfriend in this situation, IF the girl told me what had happened as soon as she got back, I would be mad but I would likely forgive her. If she waited a few months to tell me, I would be even madder, and would have to think hard before forgiving her. If I found out some other way that girl is out of my life forever.

It's always always better to own up to your mistakes on the front end.