DEAR AMY: I’m 51 years old and have been in a relationship for over three years with a man who hates my grown daughter and her 10-year-old son (my grandson). My daughter was 16 when she had my grandson. I was a single mom, and the two of them lived with me for a few years. She eventually got into low-income housing. She doesn’t drink, smoke or party. She works hard and struggles to get by. I pay for her car insurance and phone bill. This is why my boyfriend says he hates her. He says this takes away from us. I own my own house, my car is paid for and I pay my bills. I also have savings. He pays for the electric and heat at the house. I buy 90 percent of the groceries. He has moved out three times in the last year, and says it is because of her. He’s mean to my grandson. He can’t even look at my daughter. They don’t know the whole truth, but I’m sure they feel his tension. He brings this up every day. I love him, but I feel it’s none of his business what I do for my kids. He has three kids and only has a relationship with one of his kids — the others won’t speak to him. Do I need to get him out of my life?
DEAR PUT-UPON: I take it as a given that every story has two sides. Maybe you enable your daughter in ways you haven’t described. Maybe your daughter and grandson are openly disrespectful toward your boyfriend.
However, none of this matters, really, because judging from the tone and content of your question, you don’t actually love this guy. And frankly, from your description, he sounds quite unlovable: He doesn’t pull his own weight. He bullies you. He is an enemy to your close and meaningful family relationships. And he keeps leaving you.
Keep your daughter and grandson.
Give this guy the boot.
DEAR AMY: I am seeking advice on Petiquette. I’m a dog mom. During the day my dog is in daycare, but the nights present more of a challenge. I work full time and I am single, but I still choose to have a dog because of the proven emotional and fitness benefits that correlate to owning four-legged friends. Lately, I’ve been wondering whether or not my dog can come along with me in atypical settings such as to Bible study, to hair appointments and to other venues that are not conspicuously dog-friendly? I live in Denver, and our city is extremely dog-friendly, but I fear that the culture here could be desensitizing me to what is otherwise unacceptable social behavior elsewhere. I have a healthy view of an animal’s place in the world versus a human’s, so I do not want to display bad manners to my two-legged friends by imposing my four-legged friend upon them. What is the appropriate petiquette?
DEAR WONDERING: My first suggestion is that we banish the word “petiquette,” but that’s a personal “pet” peeve.
I generally equate dogs with human toddlers. Like toddlers, dogs are lovable, loving and often well-behaved. But they can be inconsistent. Their behavior can be unpredictable. And — as with a toddler — not every patron of your hair salon or member of your Bible study group wants to spend time with your pet, certainly if they’ve left their own at home, or if they have allergies, phobias or simply dislike dogs.
Call your salon in advance and ask what their policy is regarding dogs. Some salons have their own dogs — this would tell you that they are dog-friendly, but would your dog do well with the salon’s dog? You should not bring your pooch without asking.
You should also ask your fellow Bible study members how they would feel about you bringing your dog. Don’t put anyone too much on the spot, and urge them all to be frank.
DEAR READERS: Family estrangement is a serious (and frequent) topic discussed in this space.
Karl Pillemer, a researcher at Cornell University, is studying the experiences of family members who have had an estrangement, but who have reconciled with one another. The goal is to learn more about how estrangements can be healed.
I encourage any readers who are experiencing — or have experienced — family estrangement to consider participating in this study. You can share stories of family reconciliation — or ask to be interviewed about your own family estrangement — at their website: familyreconciliation.org.