DEAR AMY: I am an 11-year-old girl and my father recently passed away. I am very mature for my age and I have an autistic brother. I feel like I should take care of my brother during these hard times, but I’m worried that my mom will remarry and that I’ll have a stepfather, since before my father passed, he and my mom filed for divorce. My brother is taking the death better than I am. I am very scared and don’t know how to handle the situation. My mom has tried to help me and I do tell her how I’m feeling, but she says there is no guarantee about remarriage, which worries me. She asks me if I want her to be alone when I have my own family, which I do not, but I don’t want some man dating my mother and inviting himself into our lives. I would be very angry and would feel like he’s trying to steal my mother from me. I am just horribly scared of what will happen to my mom. There’s already a guy that likes my mom, but I don’t know if she likes him back. Can you help?
DEAR WORRIED: You have so much on your mind — it is really not fair at your age to have so many worries.
It sounds like you are asking your mom to give you guarantees about something that might or might not happen way into the future. You need tons of hugs and assurances right now, but she is probably sad and worried, too.
I want you to know that nobody can tell exactly what is going to happen in life, and so the best thing to do is to focus on what is happening right now.
When I was your age I was a lot like you — very worried about things that might happen. And what I learned is that you can lose a lot of time, wishing you could twist the future to fit your ideas of it. But the future unfolds one day at a time, and you must take each day as it comes — full of challenges, but also triumphs.
Keep talking to your mom, but try really hard to think about next week, instead of next year. Your school counselor could help; it would be great if you could meet and talk with other kids who have been through a loss like this. You are not alone, and your worries are not uncommon ones. It will help to talk about it.
I highly recommend you read the new kids’ novel “Bounce,” by writer Megan Shull (2016, Katherine Tegan Books). The lead character is a girl your age, who heals her own hurts through a series of funny and tender experiences. I think you will find this story hopeful and helpful.
DEAR AMY: I am a college student who is living in an off-campus house. There are five of us living in this house, and the house is owned by my roommate “Brad’s” father. Brad is a good friend and I enjoyed living with him in a dorm and off-campus last year. The problem is that Brad’s girlfriend has stayed the night every night since we moved in (two weeks ago). While she has an apartment of her own, she uses our washing machine, kitchen, internet and electricity. Sounds like a roommate, right? The problem is that she doesn’t pay. My roommates and I are starting to believe that she should help pay rent and/or utilities, if she decides to keep this up. I don’t mind her being over, but it’s kind of getting out of hand. How do I approach my roommate about this? Or am I totally overreacting?
DEAR CONCERNED: All housemates should kick off your tenancy by having a meeting, where you discuss all sorts of things: Division of chores, noise, how to split your shared bills, etc. You should state your case: “I think it’s fine that your girlfriend stays here, but it seems fair that she should share in the costs.” This issue could come up throughout the year with other roommates, so a basic policy would apply to all.
DEAR AMY: I was disappointed by your answer to “Heartsick in PA,” whose boyfriend was basically spying on her. You did raise alarm bells, and you told her not to try to “fix” this relationship, but what you should have said was, “Run, don’t walk, away!”
Afraid for Her
DEAR AFRAID: Definitely. Thank you.