DEAR AMY: My father and I have always had a rocky relationship. He punched me, body slammed me and choked me when I was a teenager and living with my parents. He’s been an alcoholic my whole life. He lashes out at everyone around him. He understands he has an addiction but will argue with anyone who confronts him about it. I moved out soon after I turned 18 because I couldn’t stand living in the same house as him. I am now 22, with a baby. I live with my fiance. I usually spend time with my parents on Saturdays because I don’t work and want to get out of the house. Last Saturday, my father and I got into an argument and he ended up throwing my daughter’s stuff into the yard. He proceeded to curse me out. He has told my mother to not have any contact with me and to not let me into their house. My dad’s birthday will be coming up in a month and I do not plan on joining my family for the party. They pressure me to make amends. Is it wrong of me to distance myself from my family because of something like this? Is it understandable that, until my dad gets help for his alcohol addiction, I do not want to be around him?
The Black Sheep
DEAR BLACK SHEEP: You can give your daughter a better childhood than you were granted. Your instincts are great, and I urge you to marshal your strength and resolve to stay away from your family, at least for now.
Rather than spend time with your volatile and violent father, here are some things you can do on Saturday mornings:
Pack your coffee and meet a friend at the park to push your babies in bucket swings; go to your local YWCA or community center for baby swim or gym classes; head to the public library for Saturday story time.
Saturday mornings can be lonely for full-time parents. Engaging in group activities designed for parents and babies are a great way to meet and make friends. This could change your life dramatically.
Here’s one more thing for you to do: Attend Al-anon (or another addiction support group) meetings (al-anon.org). You need help to see where you fit in your family system.
Let people who have walked your path, walk alongside you and your daughter. I’m pulling for you.
DEAR AMY: I have disabilities that cause me to have a tough time using the standard stalls in the women’s restroom. I have to use the “handicapped” stall due to its size and the height of the commode, along with the grab bars. I also take water pills, so when I gotta go, I gotta go. Every so often I have had to wait for a young person with obviously no difficulties to get done using the stall. It really makes me angry when I have to wait! Is it wrong for me to get so annoyed with people’s inconsiderate behavior?
Disabled in P-Ville
DEAR DISABLED: The stalls are there so that you, and any other person with special needs, can safely use a public toilet. If all the other stalls are occupied, anyone should use the larger stall in order to move the line along. That stall needn’t stand empty, waiting for a disabled person.
These stalls are also useful for parents with young children, older people who use grab bars, anyone with a suitcase or stroller or large people.
Yes, if there are other stalls available and an obviously able-bodied person is occupying the handicap stall, you have every right to be annoyed.
If all the stalls are occupied, you should queue in front of the handicap stall door (because that is the only stall you can safely use). Yes, you may have to wait, but sometimes, that’s just how things work out.
The kindest thing is for anyone in a bathroom queue to let anybody who has a greater need go first.
DEAR AMY: Brava for your compassionate response to the judgy person signing her letter “Worried,” who was upset because her friends took in a teenage boy with nowhere else to go. Long ago, I was that kid. I went to live with our neighbors, and without them, I would not have made it.
DEAR GRATEFUL: “Worried” was concerned about the possibility for sexual misconduct in the household because of the boy’s presence. There is without question an elevated risk, but this should not be an automatic assumption.