DEAR AMY: My grandparents have scheduled a visit. They live in another state. Normally I’d be really excited about this, but they’re bringing my cousin “Frank” with them. Frank has a swastika hanging in his bedroom (and let’s just say he doesn’t keep that because he’s a WWII re-enactor), and he’s a Trump supporter. Here’s the thing: My mom is Hispanic, her whole family is Hispanic, her mother is a Mexican immigrant, and I am half-Hispanic. Knowing what I know about Frank, I’m not going to feel comfortable being within 10 feet of him while they’re visiting. I’m not going to be able to keep my mouth shut about how uncomfortable I am around him. It’s going to be like a train wreck. I want to see my grandparents again, since I haven’t seen them in four years, but if they’re with Frank, that might be a deal breaker. I want to tell my grandparents this, but I don’t want to feel like I’m being selfish and like I’m rejecting family. My dad already tried subtly suggesting to them that they shouldn’t bring him, but they didn’t seem to get the hint.
DEAR UNEASY: It is a shame that you can’t reliably count on yourself to keep your mouth shut. Is it possible that your cousin “Frank” has more self-control than you have? Would it be acceptable to you if you spent time in Frank’s presence and he behaved appropriately and respectfully, or do you feel compelled to shut this down, regardless?
Obviously, if you and your parents feel that Frank poses a threat to your family, then they should not hint around about it — they should flat-out tell your grandparents that he is not welcome.
However, there is always a possibility that exposure to your family would be a positive influence on your cousin. It is not your job to inspire or to try to reform him, but if he is open to spending time with you, perhaps you should be, as well. You both might learn that your preconceptions about each other are faulty.
DEAR AMY: My son is a year old. His father and I are no longer together, due to the fact that he cheated on me. At first I wouldn’t allow him to see my son, but in January I was over it and started to let him see my son every weekend, including sleepovers for at least one night a week. My ex kept trying to get back together with me but I was done with him. I wanted to focus on my son. Everything was good until last month, when I announced I was dating someone. My ex got really angry and started demanding that I give him my son at the times he wanted. I gave in, even though we had a court order stating he was only allowed to have supervised visits because of his criminal activity and his dangerous friends. I still let him take our son, until one day he tried kidnapping him. It’s been two weeks since he’s last seen our son and now he’s moving out of town. He wanted to see the baby before he left but I felt scared, so I told him to follow the court order. Was I being harsh in telling him no?
DEAR A: The real purpose behind a court order is to protect the child, not to provide a way for you and your ex to manipulate each other. Both parents must adhere to the court order.
I worry about your judgment; for instance, why are you announcing that you are dating someone, to someone who is volatile? It is probably not a good idea for you to date anyone seriously until you are a fully competent and confident parent. Respect the order of the court, and your ex should, too.
DEAR AMY: Recently you mentioned the group “Autism Speaks” in your column as a resource. I encourage “allistics” (non-autistic folk) to find information about autism from autistic activists.
I highly recommend looking at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) as an alternative nonprofit.
DEAR AUTISTIC: Thank you. The website for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network is autisticadvocacy.org. This site has a “library” of recommended research materials.