Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I believe I may have met the girl for me. She is beautiful, intelligent, funny and everything I seek in a partner. We have worked together for almost four years now, which has given me the opportunity to become great friends with her. There is one factor that makes me hesitate. She is six years older than I and has two young children. As a young 26-year-old man, I feel my family would have reservations about the pairing. What do I do? Do I follow my heart and pursue the girl of my dreams? Or do I go the more “traditional” path in life and seek someone closer to my age? The second choice would appease my family, but I strongly feel that the first would please my heart. I know there are “plenty of fish in the sea” but there is something about her I cannot put into words. I find myself thinking about her both at work and at home. I also believe the attraction is a mutual feeling. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. — W
DEAR W: One of the privileges of adulthood is that you get to love the person you want to love.
Here’s a caution regarding being romantically involved with a woman who has young children: You should be circumspect, cautious and respectful of her situation. To paraphrase a favorite line of mine: Single mothers have been to the puppet show. They’ve seen the strings. A long-term relationship with a woman with children implies family-building. If you are up to this challenge, then go for it.
DEAR AMY: My daughter turns 15 soon. She has had a crush on “Ben,” a family friend (a man in his 30s) for almost two years. She is now saying that the only thing that she wants for Christmas is to go out with him, one-on-one, at a real restaurant. I have told her that she will not be going on any “dates” with him, and he has said pretty much the same — only more strongly, actually. Her infatuation seems to be deepening. But it’s not an obsession. Ben doesn’t flirt with her or encourage her. He has reminded her that he is my age and is old enough to be her parent. I’ll say this, however, I can see some of the things that she sees. He is good-looking and in great shape. He listens to her, 100 percent, without condescension. He sings and plays the guitar. I trust Ben. I even trust my daughter not to try to seduce him. But she’s “saving herself for him,” and not doing anything with guys her age. She’s turned into a real beauty, too. He has told her that even when she’s 18, she’ll still be too young for him. But you know how teens are. What should I do? — Worried Mom
DEAR WORRIED: I do know how teens are. Teens observe how their choices affect their parents’ behavior and then double-down if it yields the result they desire.
You don’t mention if your daughter’s father is in the picture, but he is an important player in the romantic drama. You seem to be playing into this by affirming her good taste in men. One way to respond would be to listen to her with the same attentiveness as “Ben” allegedly does. Ask her, “Do you think it is a good idea for a grown man to take a teenager out on a date?” ‘’Do you think it is respectful for you to talk about wanting to date someone when he is telling you no?”
Paying a lot of attention to this attraction over time has a way of sexualizing your 14-year-old. The rest of the world might do this to teen girls, but the child’s parents never should. She needs to feel her power in appropriate ways — through her smarts and talent, not through her crushes.
Make sure Ben lets you know that if he ever hears from your daughter privately (via phone, text or Snapchat), he must let you know immediately.
DEAR AMY: I was horrified at your terrible advice to “Diabetic,” whose husband was sabotaging her efforts to stay away from sweets by having sweets in the house. This is abusive. He is handing her the keys to a horrible illness and death. I was appalled by your advice — Disgusted
DEAR DISGUSTED: I agree that her husband was being disrespectful and unsupportive, but it is her duty to manage her illness — at home and elsewhere.