Ask Amy

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I need help on how to win my son's mother back.

I have been very selfish. I guess I wasn't ready for everything that was coming at me when my girlfriend gave birth to our baby. I didn't realize how well she was treating me.

I thought I needed space. I thought I needed to have fun while I was still young, but I ended up being a big jerk and making her feel worthless.

I've been beating myself up for about eight months since our breakup, and I want to show her that she is my world and that I will never leave her again.

I know I hurt her by leaving her alone with our newborn son.

I just don't know how to show her how I feel or how to make her notice the change in me.

— Changed Man

I give you tons of credit for wanting to prove yourself, but don't focus too much on winning your son's mother back; that might put too much pressure on both of you.

Show your baby son and his mom the kind of man you have become by stepping up as a father.

You should meet your financial obligations toward your son (if you don't already) and spend as much time with him as possible.

Apologize to your ex by writing her and your son a letter in which you promise to be the kind of man they deserve to have in their lives.

You can prove yourself in many ways, large and small. You don't have to shower your baby with gifts or toys — but give him big doses of love and affection, and plenty of you.

Let your son's mom help you to be the best father possible by showing you how to take care of him. Ask for her help to be a great parent and follow her lead; she'll respect you for that.

Your actions will speak for themselves, and if your ex is smart she will be watching you closely.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for 11 years. When we got married, I did not change my name. We have two children who share my husband's last name.

This holiday season we received many thoughtful cards addressed to "The Smith family," or "The Smiths."

We received only one card that was addressed properly, indicating our separate names.

I am wondering if there is a polite way to remind people that my last name is not Smith and that we are not "the Smith family," but "the Jones Smith family."

When I send written correspondence, I always use my own address labels, which indicate my own last name, and I certainly made it known at the time of our marriage that I was not changing my name.

Is there a polite way of handling this or should I just let it go?

— Not Mrs. Smith

DEAR NOT: Let it go. Release it like a holiday balloon and let it float away.

You are the "Smith family." Your husband and children are also the "Jones family."

When this issue has cropped up in my own life, I remind myself that it's not the worst thing in the world every once in a while to be lumped together with the husband and kiddies, even if I have never used their surnames and never will. Granted, my immediate family seems to have an inordinately high number of surnames (four), so it would be hard for anyone to get it exactly right.

Sometimes it's best to assume the philosophy, "You can call me anything you like — just don't call me late for dinner."

DEAR AMY: I have been bothered for some time by a question that is asked by everyone in the travel industry.

What do you say when you are asked, "Are you traveling for business or pleasure?" when you are going to a loved one's funeral? I've had this happen and it's awful.

Please ask the travel industry to start saying "business or personal."

Then the traveler will not have to go into details about what is personal but not pleasurable.

— Irritated

DEAR IRRITATED: I can't think of the last time I was asked this question, but your alternative wording is just right. Thank you.

Send questions via e-mail to

Filed under: Lifestyles

3 Comments on this post:

By: sidneyames on 1/13/10 at 7:32

Not Mrs. Smith

You seem to be lacking for something constructive to do in life. Volunteer at a shelter, go to the dog pound and scoop poop, read to a senior citizen, volunteer at thee VA and take in some of the real world.

When you 'hooked up" with Mr. Smith, you started a "family". So just accept it. I don't care what name I"m called, as long as the checks don't bounce. I use my maiden name as well, but I'm not hurt, offended, or crushed when others don't notice it. After all, what's in a name? Be a big girl and get over it. If you didn't like Mr. Smith's name, maybe you should have married some other guy, like a Jones for instance.

By: sidneyames on 1/13/10 at 7:33

DEAR IRRITATED: I can't think of the last time I was asked this question, but your alternative wording is just right. Thank you

I agree with you Amy; most travel agents don't ask that question unless they are asking it for a person to get a hotel discount for business. Maybe.

By: NewYorker1 on 1/13/10 at 9:37

DEAR NOT: Girl, I'm so glad I'm gay. Women are crazy. Straight guys, you can have every bit of that. I don't see how you guys put up with it. I love my girlfriends to shop with and hang out with, but they are crazy when it comes to relationships. Too damn picky and needy.