Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have a 15-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son. We both work full time. We are generally happy for the kids to have their friends at our house. We have a finished basement with a 70-inch TV -- the largest in the house. The basement is carpeted and has a couch, chairs and a foosball table. One problem: When our daughter has her friends over, they are SO LOUD. It is fine when they are in the basement. When they are in the kitchen and we are in the den (next to each other), we have a volume battle. She gets peeved with us because we ask her to ask them to lower their volume. She shushes her friends and they in turn get peeved with her, saying they can't make any noise in our house. True passive-aggressive teenage behavior. This, of course, means her friends don't want to come to our home because they can't "be themselves." We do not think it is too much to ask that they hold down the volume. She suggests we watch TV in our bedroom. Are we alone in thinking this is crazy? Why should we be expected to stay in our room while our daughter entertains her friends?
A House Divided By Noise
DEAR NOISE: The secret, underlying reason your daughter and her friends gather in the kitchen instead of your fully appointed rec room is because they want to be near you (and the fridge). They don't necessarily want to be in the same room with you, but they do want to be nearby. They just don't realize it.
The obvious solution is for you and your husband to tear yourselves from your television and join these girls in the kitchen. This presents a golden opportunity to engage with them. When you get to know them, you can ask them directly to dial down the volume. However, I urge you to be tolerant about this teen behavior. As obnoxious as this noise is, when you stop hearing it, you will definitely miss it.
DEAR AMY: I have been dating a guy for two years. He was in a seven-year relationship and has a 3-year-old daughter. In the time we have been dating, he has seen his daughter only a handful of times. His ex has cut off all communication with him. Whenever I ask what he is going to do to see his daughter, he gets angry and doesn't want to talk about it. I have tried messaging the ex myself, but she does not respond. According to him, there is "nothing he can do," and he will not go to court. It's like I am more concerned about him having a relationship with his daughter than he is. What kind of woman am I to date a man who doesn't care for his own child? What can I do to help without offending and upsetting him?
DEAR SAD: First, make sure you do not have a child with this guy.
Many a parent/child relationship has been influenced and improved by the presence of a caring and thoughtful stepparent, but your guy is either so discouraged or so disengaged that he is erasing his own child. Does he pay child support? If not, this might be why he is avoiding pressing for his parental rights.
I give you credit for trying but, because he is offended by your efforts, you should stop. Ultimately, I hope you find a more family-friendly man to be with.
DEAR AMY: You offered valuable advice to "Troubled Teen," the 15-year-old girl who felt she was being sexually harassed by a prominent church member. You told her to "trust your gut." I say "Amen" to that.
DEAR FAITHFUL: Too often, girls (especially) are socialized out of trusting their instincts. Instincts, I believe, are nature's way of protecting us from harm.