DEAR AMY: I am a 24-year-old college graduate living at home to save money for a place of my own. I have been dating “Martin” for almost a year. We love each other and have talked about our future (i.e., marriage). After a lot of discussion and research, we decided that it was appropriate to look into long-term birth control. About a month ago, I had my appointment at the clinic, and everything went well. Until last night. Yesterday my mother received the notice from the health insurance company notifying her of my clinic visit, because I am on her health coverage. While I stand by my decision to be proactive and responsible, she is struggling with it and with how she found out. She is very conservative in her views on premarital sex, and feels incredibly hurt that I did not tell her about it ahead of time. We have always been very close, so I understand her hurt. I honestly wrestled with talking with her about this, but at the same time, it was a choice regarding my body and my relationship. I offered to pay for it, but she said that the damage has already been done. Can you give your opinion? How much is a parent entitled to know about their adult child’s intimate life? Is there anything I could have done/can do to help the situation? I have always been one to passively avoid problems, but I want to do everything I can to promote my relationship with my mother and my boyfriend. Your insight?
Can’t Un-ring That Bell
DEAR CAN’T UN-RING: While I, personally, feel your mother should have thrown a parade in your honor — or at least respected your choice — I also completely understand her reaction to this.
This episode falls under the category of, “My house, my rules,” and furthermore, I believe you know it.
Using birth control is about you making a very important choice regarding your own body. However, if you are making adult choices regarding your own body, then why are you inviting your mother’s involvement by having her pay for it?
Your habit of passively avoiding discussing challenging issues could be interpreted here as an immature (or subconscious) bid to force the matter.
And so now the matter has been forced.
Understand that your mother is disappointed and struggling. You and your boyfriend should offer again to compensate her for the cost of your clinic visit. And you should ask her if she would like you to move into your own place.
Your boyfriend could make amends by standing alongside you as your loving partner, not waiting while you try to smooth things over. You two should bravely ask your mother how you can earn back her respect.
DEAR AMY: My stepdad tickles me a lot. I’ve told him to stop, that I don’t like it and that it makes me uncomfortable. When I get mad about him tickling, especially when I’m feeling sick, he starts to go out of his way to tickle me more and even warns me about it. He tells me, “I’m gonna tickle you more now,” and when I say “no” he says, “It wasn’t a question.” Is that abuse? I really hate this guy because he’s a jerk. Nothing he does is illegal, but if I had an actual legal reason to call Child Protective Services or 911 on him it would be great.
DEAR HAD IT: No one should touch you if you don’t want them to. Yes, your stepfather’s tickling raises red flags. You don’t say how old you are, but the first thing you should do is appeal to your mother (you don’t mention her — is she aware of this?) or another close family member.
If this continues, even after you firmly say “No!” then you should report this to your school counselor (who is a “mandated reporter”), and yes, if no one intervenes on your behalf, then you should call the CPS hotline yourself.
DEAR AMY: I know you’ve already addressed both sides of the issue of a middle-aged man checking out young women at the beach. While I totally agree with you that the dude needs to be more sensitive to his wife, you and I both know that your daughter would not complain about George Clooney checking her out. Women seem to have a double standard about this.
DEAR READER: My daughter likely thinks that George Clooney is a “gross old guy,” but I take your point.