Ask Amy

Monday, August 23, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: My husband had an emotional affair with a teacher at my child's school last year.

They both lied to me repeatedly when I asked them to quit contacting each other, and the contact didn't stop until school was nearly over.

Being betrayed by two people whom I trusted has been extremely difficult. I think it's finally over, but I'm quite paranoid about the new school year starting when they will see each other again almost daily.

She is married, too, but that didn't seem to stop either of them.

I've saved copies of all their e-mails and cell phone records.

Part of me wants to share this information with the principal and the teacher's husband, but I know I should probably just let it go.

— Betrayed Wife

DEAR BETRAYED: You should tell the school principal about this inappropriate relationship before the start of the new year. Even if the school doesn't have a stated policy prohibiting relationships between a teacher and the parent of a student, this shows terrible judgment on a multitude of levels — most importantly concerning your son.

The school administrator should speak to this teacher about her actions, and your child should not be placed in any of her classes.

Professionals who work with children hold an important trust. They have a responsibility to safeguard the child's well-being. The teacher and your husband have destroyed her ability to work with your family.

In terms of your husband, I suggest counseling and total transparency regarding any contact with her. (He should have none and should tell you if she contacts him.)

You should notify her husband only if you feel doing so would benefit your marriage.


DEAR AMY: My 25-year-old daughter is living with my husband and me. During the past few years, while away at college, she gained about 40 pounds.

She is only 5-foot-2, so that is a lot of extra weight on someone who used to be in perfect shape.

She eats rapidly and chooses large quantities of fattening foods.

People say I cannot say anything to her because it will make her feel that she is only loved when she is perfect and will stress her into eating more.

Why is it that if you suspect your child is on drugs or engaging in other dangerous habits it's OK to intercede, but not if you see her eating toward obesity?

Do I have to just watch her overeat until she has 100 pounds to lose instead of 40? (I am 60 and am very fit and healthy.)

I am so worried about her that I cannot sleep most nights. I don't know how to approach my daughter without putting her on the defensive.

— Worried Mother

DEAR WORRIED: Any attempt you make to discuss this might put your daughter on the defensive — or the offensive. Understand this before you start.

You can discuss weight with your daughter, but you should do so knowing that you can't solve this problem for her. Sometimes, concern comes off as pressure, and a person with an eating disorder is very reactive to pressure.

So you say, "Honey, I'm worried about you. Your eating seems out of control. I'd like to try to help, but first let's talk about what's going on with you." Do not compare her to you — or to her formerly "perfect" self.

The answer for your daughter might be more complicated than diet and exercise. If she is bingeing her way into large weight gain, she may need clinical help.


DEAR AMY: A reader wondered what to do with a hideous gift of art from a friend.

Because these people are very good friends, it is easy to imagine that the receiver of the gift had at some time praised her friend's artwork. This was a time to be brutally frank. She could have praised the effort while making it clear that it was not her taste.

This is also a cautionary tale. Be truthful or you, too, might end up with a horror in an expensive baroque frame.

— Avid Reader

DEAR READER: Being frank without being "brutally frank" might also work.

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

Filed under: Lifestyles