Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I recently started working for a new company in a pretty heavily male-dominated field. On certain emails sent to large groups of co-workers, I've noticed that my colleagues address the email to "Gentlemen." There are clearly at least two females cc'd on most of these emails. I feel as though the emails are not addressed to me with this greeting; I believe that it is old-fashioned and offensive. Do you have thoughts on how to address this -- without ruffling feathers or coming off the wrong way? -- No Gentleman

DEAR NO: When composing a professional group email, the writer needs to imagine the intended recipients gathered together in a conference room.

It is not professional (or polite) to address a group of colleagues -- where at least one is a woman -- as "Gentlemen." One option for you now is to compose a group email addressed to your colleagues with the salutation: "Ladies." Ah, but you and I know that you probably cannot do this.

Alternatively, perhaps you could send out a group email to your work group with the subject line, "A Quick Suggestion." In the body of the email you could write: "It would be helpful (certainly to me) if we could address emails to our working group as 'Colleagues' or a similar gender-neutral term. I don't speak for the other women in our group, but when I am included on emails addressed to 'Gentlemen,' I'm sometimes unsure if they are intended for me." If you are not willing to do this -- or are unable to -- because of your position -- you could ask your supervisor or HR representative for suggestions on how to handle this salutation situation.

DEAR AMY: My girlfriend and I have been engaged for several years and have a 4-year-old son, but for economic reasons we are still living separately. We often have conflicts because I feel she spends too much time with other friends and does not allow me the proper role of a father. I have suggested that we designate at least a couple of days as family time. This Mother's Day we decided to go to a carnival and then to dinner. When she showed up with another guy and said he was going to hang out with us I blew up. Was I wrong? -- Upset and Offended

DEAR OFFENDED: Presuming that your child was present at this Mother's Day outing, I have to point out the obvious -- that "blowing up" in front of your child is always wrong.

Your desire to spend more time with your son is natural and laudable. One way to spend more time together would be to cohabit with your family -- and yet you and your fiance don't quite seem to be a couple, or even headed in that direction. If you were headed toward couplehood, then she would want to ride the tilt-a-whirl at the carnival of life with you.

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Because it seems somewhat unlikely at this point that you and she will marry, you should research your legal rights and responsibilities concerning your son. Your child's mother does not demonstrate a willingness to go along with your excellent "family time" concept. You cannot force her to do this, and so your family time might be confined mainly to time spent with your son.

Make sure you treasure your connection with him, regardless of how your relationship with his mother evolves. No matter what, always make a priority of sharing your time with him.

DEAR AMY: The scenario described by "Unwilling to Forgive" is, unfortunately, all too common. She described an out-law who was suddenly trying to become an in-law again. As soon as her husband's parents had both passed away, Unwilling's sister-in-law was suddenly anxious to rejoin the family circle. Helloooo! Can you say "inheritance?" My guess is that she realizes that her husband may be in line to receive some money from his parent's estate and she wants part of it. -- Suspicious

DEAR SUSPICIOUS: You are one of several readers who suggested that this in-law's behavior was motivated by devious intentions.