Ask Amy: Give stepson the gift of patience

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: For Christmas, my stepson has asked for things that are expensive and have violent and sexual content. We have told him that we will not buy them. He is 12, and perhaps not mature enough to understand our reasons. He argues that our other children, who are younger, get "everything they want."My husband and I are willing to get the things on his wish list that are reasonable. When we tell him that, he says he hates living with us and wants to go to his mom's, because he can have what he wants there. His mom has discussed with us her intention to purchase several of these questionable gifts. How we can come to an understanding with him? -- Mom Seeking Advice

DEAR MOM: Your stepson is not old enough for things he desperately wants, and yet, he is not young enough to love Christmas the way his siblings do. His irresponsible mother is trying to bribe him for his affection by handing him tools that will only contribute to his challenges.

You and your husband should keep doing exactly what you are doing. Talk to him, be patient with him and lavish your time and attention onto him. His dad should set aside one-on-one dad time for him, away from the younger kids during the holiday season.

If he still throws a tantrum at Christmas, do your best to be kind and calm and not let him spoil the day for his siblings. If going to his mother's house is in the cards on that day, then so be it. If not, he'll have to tolerate being with you.

DEAR AMY: My mom has a problem with any of her kids' significant others when we are with them. The whole time we are dating, she calls them names and criticizes them, but once we break up, she becomes their friend. Recently, I left my boyfriend of more than two years. There has been a lot of pain and hurt, and he has caused a couple of problems between my mom and me. Now, she "likes" him. I am bothered by her actions and told her so, but she doesn't care. What's your take on this? -- Disappointed Daughter

DEAR DAUGHTER: Your mother seems overly involved in the personal lives of her children. Now that you recognize her pattern, you should not invite her comments or engage with her when she makes them.

If you are old enough to have a long-term romantic relationship, you should also be mature enough to create and enforce boundaries with your mother. She won't draw acceptable boundaries, so you should.

DEAR AMY: I was intrigued by the letter from Concerned in Wisconsin," who asked if it was acceptable to put tracking devices on his daughters' phones.

An alternative approach is to text your girls at any given time, have them take a photo of themselves at the given event/place and send it to you immediately.

If they cannot produce the photo, then they are guilty! So simple and foolproof! -- Sara in Minnetonk

DEAR SARA: Evidently you don't have teenagers and haven't heard the My phone ran out of juice" excuse. Your idea is not foolproof," but it is creative.