Ask Amy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I have an adult son with whom I have had an off-on relationship for most of his life. I have bailed him out of many difficult situations and have "been there" for him.

He is estranged from the rest of the relatives in the family. Recently, he claimed his cousin molested him when they were kids (they're 18 months apart), but he wouldn't offer further details.

He has demanded that I repudiate this cousin and cut off any relationship.

The cousin is a family man with two kids. He is a lovely person and the only son of my deceased brother.

Having no context, no details and no pertinent information, I am hard-pressed to banish someone from my life on my son's say-so.

He has "embroidered" situations before, and I am wondering if this is another case of that, based on jealousy stemming from my relationship with the cousin. My son has refused to meet with a counselor or give further details.

What is your advice?

How can I fix this?

— Bewildered

DEAR BEWILDERED: If your son was molested as a child, this might explain some of his difficulties and estrangements as an adult.

However, if he is refusing to supply any details, he is not only denying you the opportunity to know what happened, but he is also denying himself the chance to talk about this and perhaps take steps toward healing.

Your relationship with his cousin is immaterial right now.

People do render false accusations of sexual abuse, but if this accusation is true, then your son needs to tell his story, be believed, and get help.

You should continue to urge your son toward counseling. A counselor has no personal relationship with either party and can help to coax out this story.

Tell your son you're worried about him and that you've set up a meeting with a counselor. You could both benefit from contacting the Rape, Abuse Incest National Network at

DEAR AMY: My girlfriend and I have been together for more than two years.

I love her, but I don't know what to do. She has to have things planned out, and if I don't take an interest in what interests her, she will drop the activity. This applies to things such as blogging, crafting — even the household chores.

I can do stuff on my own without her being interested in my hobbies or pursuits.

This tendency has gotten worse in the last few months, and we argue about it. I just don't know what to do anymore.

I don't want to lose her, but I don't know what I should do to help her.

— Bothered Boyfriend

DEAR BOTHERED: If your girlfriend can't load the dishwasher or crochet a comforter without you cheering her on, then she's not going to have much to blog about — and you've got a problem.

Successful couples appreciate each other for their individual interests — even if they don't appropriate these interests — but a good partnership is more than the sum of its individual parts.

The solution for you two lies in the quality of your shared activities and relationships. Find something new to do together.

Your girlfriend also must come to realize that her neediness is really unattractive. You shouldn't have to help her too much; she should help herself.

DEAR AMY: More on toddler tantrums. What works for my kids won't necessarily work for yours, and what works for one sibling may not work for another.

Dousing one of my kids with cold water during a toddler tantrum would have been like pouring kerosene on a fire.

What worked for us was to deposit them in a comfortable, quiet location for a few minutes so they could collect themselves.

— No More Tantrums

DEAR NO MORE: What worked for you also worked for me. Thank you.

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Filed under: Lifestyles

1 Comment on this post:

By: NewYorker1 on 4/21/10 at 8:00

DEAR AMY: More on toddler tantrums. I say whoop that @$$ with an extension cord. Give them something to really cry about.