DEAR AMY: I was adopted within my family when I was a little girl. My grandparents on my father’s side forced my father’s sister to adopt me. She raised me, and though we were never close when I was a kid, in recent years, we’ve developed a better relationship. I am stuck trying to make my aunt/”mom” and grandmother happy. Every time I need to make a major decision and it’s not what they envision for me, they guilt-trip me, mentioning how they saved me from the life I could’ve had. I was divorced a few years ago and was a single mom, and not once did I ask for financial help from them. However, when I cannot afford an extravagant gift for them, I never hear the end of it. According to my grandmother, how much I spend shows how much respect I have for them. I’ve been dating a wonderful man for the past two years and we’re ready to be married. I’ve tried to ask for my family’s blessing, but they do not like him because he’s not the same ethnicity as I am. They also think he’s cheap. To me money is not the most important thing, and this man treats me and my son the way we should be treated. This has caused a huge rift between me and my family. I am so hurt. Now they are forcing me to choose between pursuing a new life or them. How can I move on with my life, knowing that I am rejecting the family that saved me?
Torn Between Family and Love
DEAR TORN: Repeat after me: I do not owe my family unending gratitude.
I can understand why you feel obligated to your family for giving you so much, but good parents don’t ask to be paid back for the task of raising you, they expect good children — which you are — to pay that kindness forward by raising good children themselves — which you are doing.
You do not owe your family for your upbringing, and for them to constantly remind you that they rescued you so long ago is unkind and manipulative.
You have done your job and grown up into a compassionate, self-sufficient person. You have found a person that loves and appreciates you.
Start planning for the wonderful life you and your husband will build together for your son. You may have to carry on in that life without your family, at least for a time.
DEAR AMY: I am a 30-year-old single mom. I work in a hospital and am going to school to be a nurse. There is this guy whose pictures keep showing up on the popular page of my Instagram feed. I was looking through his page and it says that he is a single dad that lives in my area. He is very good looking and looks like a very involved dad. I would like to talk to him and see what could happen. I just don’t know how to start a conversation with him without looking desperate. Can you help?
DEAR B: First, this: Understand that it would be very easy for this guy to create a completely fictitious persona on Instagram. Watch an episode or two of “Catfish,” and proceed with common sense and caution.
I’m afraid there is no magical conversation starter to chat with a crush. This is a matter of simply being bold enough to make the first move. I think the best solution for you is the simplest, and that is to be honest and authentic: Reach out, introduce yourself, and say, “It looks like you and I have a lot in common.” Don’t worry if this encounter doesn’t go perfectly. To quote Lorelai Gilmore: “I’m afraid once your heart is involved, it all comes out in moron.”
I hope all goes well, but I think you also need to consider that this crush may be a sign that you’re ready to put yourself out there a bit more.
There are opportunities to meet great, attractive, kid-loving people. Start small, like reaching out to this cute single dad, and please don’t get discouraged. Just remember that the best people will find your moronic moments completely charming.
DEAR READERS: Sometimes people who dispense advice run out of answers. If you’ve ever been curious about the life behind my advice, read my new book, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2017, Hachette).