Ask Amy

Monday, February 1, 2010 at 12:59am

DEAR AMY: I am a 23-year-old woman with a 4-year-old son.

I am engaged to a wonderful man. We have taken things slowly and finally moved in together about eight months ago, when he graduated from college.

My fiance and my son were getting along great -- playing together, wrestling around and telling each other they loved each other, but over the past few months my fiance has just completely stopped playing with my son.

He barely talks to him and gets frustrated with him in seconds.

It seems as if my son can't do anything right, and now when my fiance is not home my son tells me, "'Tom is going to leave us because he hates me now."

It hurts so much to know my son feels this way.

I talked to my fiance about it, and he is serious about making things better.

He says it's just a big change for him.

He is an only child and just graduated last year from college, where he was partying a lot.

What are some things I can do to make this transition any easier for them both?

I'm at my wits' end trying to please everyone and getting no help in return.

-- Hurting

DEAR HURTING: Moving your young son in with your boyfriend just as he graduates from college is not "taking things slowly," and therein lies the problem. The solution should not rest entirely with you.

It's obvious that your boyfriend is not ready to be a dad. His reaction to your son is troubling because he's conveying that your little boy is somehow responsible for the grown-up's behavior.

Your boyfriend can improve his parenting by taking a parenting class or joining a playgroup with other dads. An older father with a slightly older son could offer him some useful wisdom and mentoring.

If your fiance refuses or just can't find the time to take some concrete steps to improve his parenting, you must act in your son's best interest. Living with a hotheaded young man who is ambivalent about being a dad isn't good for the boy.


DEAR AMY: I am a 32-year-old single woman with many married friends.

A few months ago, I went to a concert with a few couples and a married man who didn't bring his wife.

In the backseat of a car on the way home, he tried to kiss me. I pulled away, and the next day when he sent me an e-mail saying he had a good time, I didn't respond.

I saw this same man and his wife and kids at a recent dinner party. Before I left, he said he wanted to have coffee sometime and that he'd like to get to know me better. I was noncommittal and polite and hoped nothing would come of it, but he recently e-mailed me and asked to get a drink.

He is a nice person, and I don't want to assume he wants to have an affair with me. We have numerous common friends, and I don't want to be rude, but frankly, he seems like trouble.

How do I respond?

-- Troubled Single

DEAR SINGLE: In old movies when this sort of thing happened, Bette Davis would slap a man in the kisser for being "fresh."

Do your best Bette Davis impersonation, and say a version of, "Hey, pal, I don't like this. You're married. I don't want to spend time alone with you -- understand?"

You say he's a "nice person," but nice married men don't try to force kisses on disinterested women in the backseats of cars and nice men don't do end runs around their wives and kids at a dinner party.

In those old movies I love, this guy would be called "a prize heel."


DEAR AMY: "Concerned Wife" wrote to you because her mother-in-law snooped and found old love letters written to the mother-in-law's husband.

You really think snooping is worse than adultery?

Guess I missed the "Thou shalt not snoop" commandment. Does that come before or after "Thou shalt not commit adultery"?

-- Vicki

DEAR VICKI: You seem to be mistaken about my response to "Concerned Wife."

Snooping is not worse than adultery, but most adulterers would have you think so -- certainly if snooping leads to their being caught.


Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

1 Comment on this post:

By: NewYorker1 on 2/1/10 at 12:42

DEAR HURTING: Girl, face the facts. This relationship is NOT going to work. Let this young man go so that he can grow up. He's too young to be caught up in a ready-made family. He just graduated from college and he is ready to explore the world sweetie. Don't stand in his way because it's only going to cause resentment later down the road because he's going to always wonder what could have been. I encourage both of you to enjoy your early twenties, explore life and stop trying to grow up so fast. You have plenty of time for that. You have a child already, don't burden this young man with your responsibilities. He's not ready. Find a way to let him spread his wings and fly and see what else the world has to offer and if he comes back, then you know it was meant to be.