Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: We have always been very close to our son. Since he has been in a serious relationship with a woman, he seems to have put her first -- and on a pedestal. We feel like we don't know him anymore and don't see him so much anymore. We have heard how sons lean toward the girl's side and that daughters are closer to their own families. There have been horrible stories about future daughter-in-laws. We are told to be careful of how we behave and what we say. I want us all to be close. How should we deal with this possible future daughter-in-law?

Worried Mom

DEAR WORRIED: You don't mention making any effort at all to get to know your son's partner. Surely he could do a better job of bringing you together, but he's not doing that -- and so you should.

It is natural for adults to create a small circle around their partner, with themselves at the center. Perhaps you and your husband did that when you first got together. Ideally, you want your son to be an intimate and involved partner to his spouse.

He will do this by putting her first. And you must not only let him do this, but understand that he will do this, and accept that there are many positive aspects in his choice.

Do you want your son to be happy, even if he is creating some distance from you? I hope the answer is yes. Your response should be to convey to him, "We are delighted that you have found someone who makes you so happy. We would love to get to know her better. Can you two come to dinner so we can get to know her?" Your concern about this distance (and silent judgment about his choices) may make the distance and tension worse.

So yes, you must be careful, respectful, and open and accepting of this change in your family system. This woman might surprise you -- and you should do your best to loop her into your family.

DEAR AMY: My partner was hosting a birthday dinner for a daughter at a restaurant. We had five young people with us, ranging in age from early 20s to early 30s. My partner and I are in our mid-50s. I was surprised to see our guests spending so much time texting (or doing whatever) on their cellphones during dinner. We tried to keep the conversation interesting and relevant, yet they spent a lot of time with their heads down, looking at their phones, and not engaging in the conversation. This was sad, because we only get together with them for birthdays and holidays. How should we handle this? Should we ask that cellphones be put away during a family gathering? Or is that just not realistic these days, and I should be thankful that they even join us for events?

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K

DEAR K: At the start of dinner, you should ask the group, "How about we all turn our phones off during dinner so we can communicate the old-fashioned way?" They will either reluctantly comply, or will not. But you will have done your best -- in a good-natured and good-humored way -- to get things kicked off well.

After that, you make a point of asking good questions, bringing others into the conversation, and do your best to be a great and attentive listener. Your example is one for these younger people to follow.

DEAR AMY: Responding to the query from "Very Worried Mom" about her son's interest in porn, going behind your parents' backs twice does not equate to addiction.

I really hope that these parents have an open and frank discussion about sex with their son before assuming he is addicted to pornography. It should be a sex-positive talk that should entail what sex really is, the responsibilities and consequences involved, why it's important to have a healthy relationship with your partner, and the importance of respect for both parties involved (consent). The discussion should also cover why the pornography itself is unacceptable.

Sex Positivity

DEAR POSITIVITY: Wise advice that I hope these parents follow.