DEAR AMY: I'm in a 10-year relationship with a great gal. I've been divorced for over a decade. My partner can't stand being near my ex-wife. She was able to deal with her at my youngest son's wedding last year, but developed more disgust for my ex after that. Now that same son is graduating from graduate school. My partner can't bring herself to attend the event and associated dinners, which my ex will attend. She wants no contact with my ex in the future. My older son will be marrying next summer and that may be an issue, too. Both sons live in the area. They typically do not invite their mother to activities that include my partner. What is the best way to handle this going forward? She wants to inform both boys of her stance on this, but without discussing her feelings about their mother. Any suggestions?
Confused in Colorado
DEAR CONFUSED: If your partner starts skipping events to avoid your ex, then I assure you your sons will intuit her feelings about their mother. When they hear her say, "I'm going to skip the graduation and every future event to which your mother is invited, for no particular reason," they will draw the correct conclusion.
You don't provide any details about the bad blood, but with two sons living locally and getting married and perhaps having children at some point, your partner is moving in the wrong direction. She should become more -- and not less -- able to tolerate her de facto stepsons' mother. As it is, her refusal to attend functions where the ex is present will be an ongoing stressor for your sons.
Your partner is a grown-up. She should definitely stay home if she wants to. But it can be quite easy to deal with people at ceremonial functions like graduations and weddings. You just nod hello, smile for the camera and avoid close contact by engaging with others.
DEAR AMY: I have been dating a girl for eight months now. We share everything. I'm 17 and she's about to turn 16. The other day she was going to a show with some friends and they were planning to get some weed beforehand. She smokes weed about once a month. I asked why she smokes and she said it's the only way to relieve anxiety. I have never smoked and don't plan on it. This really saddens me and I try to be supportive but I just don't know what to do anymore. Should I say it's me or weed? I love her a lot but I have been raised super anti-drugs. I don't know what to do anymore.
DEAR CONFUSED: Your girlfriend is 15 years old. She is making choices fairly typical of an immature kid. What she is doing is not only dumb, but illegal. It is also bad for her still-developing brain.
Studies show that for teens peer relationships are more influential than relationships with parents. So yes, if you want to try to persuade your girlfriend to give up pot, tell her how much you don't like it, and tell her you don't want to be with her if she smokes. Don't say "It's either me or the weed." Say, "If you choose to smoke, I'm going to choose not to be with you."
DEAR AMY: I grew up in a family much like that described by "Wondering Daughter," whose mother never paid attention to her children or grandchildren. It took time, several bouts of therapy and the stark contrast of my wife's loving, caring, connected and joyful family to understand that my mother was suffering from profound emotional and psychological damage and that these behaviors were simply her coping methods for containing whatever terrible secrets she took to her grave as life's damaged goods. She quarantined herself to break the chain. Your advice to Wondering was excellent. Mom is not going to change or offer any understanding as to how she became who she is. Life's too short. Keep your heart focused where it belongs and life will unfold as it should.
DEAR PAPPY: You are wise and wonderful. Thank you.