DEAR AMY: My daughter, an almost-single working mother of two teens, recently relayed a scenario, which she said she didn’t know how to handle. She said she didn’t have any training or previous experience with this sort of thing. My daughter was going to bed when the doorbell rang. A friend of her 15-year-old son’s was at the door. He was crying, saying his parents had kicked him out of the house. My daughter has to get up very early for work, so she could not stay up and talk to the friend. She did allow him to come in, and reminded both kids that it was a school night. She said the boy was gone in the morning when she left for work, but she wondered what should have been the right course of action. She does not know the friend’s parents. I’d like your take on this, and your advice.
DEAR WONDERING: I cannot imagine greeting a crying 15-year-old boy at the door at night and not trying to console him, reassure him or even find out if he is basically OK. Allowing this boy to spend the night was generous, but it would have taken between 10 to 30 minutes to make this kid a cup of tea, and ask him some basic questions: Are you safe? Do you want me to call/text your parents to tell them where you are? Can you talk to the school counselor tomorrow?
Neighbors, aunts and uncles, and the parents of friends can be heroes to adolescents going through rough times. Many times, a glimpse into another family’s healthier way of functioning can help a kid to understand that all is not lost, and that there is safe harbor during rough seas.
Your own daughter’s behavior on that night would have reinforced some unfortunate assumptions this boy might have about adults: That they just don’t care all that much.
DEAR AMY: Over the past several months I have gained 20 pounds (just from dining out too much). My clothes are no longer fitting me very well, and I feel it’s time to lose the weight. On the plus side, my breasts have (also) gotten larger, which my husband just loves. He thinks I look just fine and has asked me not to lose the weight. My question is, who should I please — my husband or myself?
Worrying Over Weight
DEAR WORRYING: While it’s nice that your husband loves your new figure, he doesn’t have to live in your body — you do.
There are a lot of misconceptions about diet and weight loss, but by far one of the most toxic (in my opinion) is that losing weight is only about how you look. In fact, trying to shed those pounds often has very little to do with looks; it’s really about how you feel. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said I’m trying to watch what I eat, and someone has oh-so-thoughtfully replied, “Why? You’re not fat.” This has the effect of negating a person’s efforts, and of making you feel like a fool for wanting what you want.
The fact is that it is terrible to feel like an alien in your own skin, or to try and squeeze yourself into your favorite clothes that used to fit perfectly, and now resemble sausage casings.
If trying to lose this weight will make you feel your best, then that’s exactly what you should do. Talk to your husband about why you want to do this. Don’t let him make you feel bad about wanting something different than what he wants for you. It’s your body; you deserve to feel the way you want to feel — bigger breasts or not.
DEAR AMY: I have enjoyed the ongoing discussion in your column about how to discuss divorce with family and friends when the news is raw and the details are not pretty. When my 5-year-old son asked why his father and I had divorced, I told him to ask his father. His father was man enough to tell his son the truth — that he had several girlfriends during the marriage. That 5-year-old is now a man, and by all appearances, a good husband. I know this would not work for all families . . . but it worked for ours.
DEAR MOM: I’m glad this worked for you, but some 5-year-olds are probably too young to process the whole “I had a lot of girlfriends” explanation.