Ask Amy: Give ma a clear picture of tattoo

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I am a recent college graduate living at home until I can get on my feet. Recently, my mother discovered my tattoo. I got it more than two years ago while I was at school, and it represents an important event in my past. My mother does not believe in body modification (she calls it disfigurement), and she is very unhappy with me. My tattoo is hidden even while I am wearing a bathing suit; it was not meant for her eyes. Nor do I believe that she has a right to say what I do to my body. She is making me feel as if I have committed a crime. How can I explain to her that it was not meant to hurt or disrespect her?Tattoo TroubleDEAR TROUBLE: You can explain this to your mother like this: "This is not meant to disrespect you or hurt your feelings. I'm sorry to have disappointed you, but this is about me, Mom -- not you." After that, you can't control how your mother behaves or reacts.

You are correct that your mother can't and shouldn't control what you do with your body.

Unfortunately, living at home exposes you to her point of view -- and she certainly has a right to that. You should be respectful, even if she is not. You should be calm, even if she is not.

DEAR AMY: What do you think of a husband who says, "In 10 years, I'm outta here!" We have been married for almost 20 years and have two wonderful children. In nine years, our youngest will be in college, and my husband feels his parenting will be done. His job leaves him exhausted, and he feels overwhelmed by the amount of chores at home. I am trying to build my own home business. It seem as if the only thing we have in common is the children. I see a counselor (he refuses to go). Is it more important for the emotional health of the kids to stay in this marriage or to be good role models of a loving relationship, perhaps with another person?Wondering Out WestDEAR WONDERING: Ten years is a long lead time. This tells me that your husband is exhausted and overwhelmed; his default position is "fight or flight," and he is coping by fighting now and planning his flight later.

Can you and the kids take some of your husband's chores off his docket? Can you hire someone? Yes, your children deserve two loving and emotionally healthy parents, but it is better if their parents demonstrate these values while married to each other.

You and your husband should talk about your lives, starting with your saying, "It is devastating for me to hear that you are planning to leave. But can't we do things differently in order for all of us to be happier?"