DEAR AMY: I turned 16 this summer, but have gotten into a state of disagreement with my mother on a single issue. Like with many other guys my age, a great deal of strife tends to surface over relationships. That’s my problem, too. For nearly two years I’ve kept in touch with a girl from Georgia. I live in New England. For the past few months I’ve been fostering a long-distance relationship via Skype with her, and it has become a personal goal for both of us to someday meet in person. We talk daily and get along tremendously well. I’ve mentioned the idea of traveling to Atlanta to my mother. Rather than this being an issue of time or expense, my mother has developed a tendency to make ludicrous accusations about this girl and refuses to consider traveling. I’ve answered my mother’s questions calmly and politely, and even offered to have her in a Skype call to communicate with this girl in order to ease her suspicions. Despite this, she dismisses anything I say with something along the lines of a “Mother Knows Best” philosophy. This predicament has been frustrating and disheartening for both myself and my partner. How can I persuade my mother to allow me to travel to Atlanta?
DEAR MOROSE: My first suggestion is that you should not refer to your long-distance girlfriend as your “partner.” This choice underscores your immaturity.
You haven’t mentioned if you’ve discussed the idea of having your girlfriend visit you — instead of you visiting her. This would involve you and your girlfriend figuring out how to raise the money and working with both sets of parents to get permission. Your mother might be more open to this idea.
You need to do well in school, make sure that this relationship does not interfere with your other friendships and family relationships and try your hardest to demonstrate that you are both capable, respectful and mature.
I agree with you that your mother should not be disrespectful toward you or your girlfriend regarding this important relationship. Your mother would be wise to get to know her, since she is so important to you.
DEAR AMY: I really enjoy your column. You often get letters from women who are frustrated because their boyfriends won’t propose. Maybe it’s the fact that I was not raised in North America, but I find this a bit infuriating. In this day and age when we are constantly asking for equal opportunities for men and women and trying so hard to earn their respect, why would women just sit and whine about a boyfriend who won’t propose? Back home (in my home country), there are usually no proposals — two adults who have a serious relationship just discuss their future plans together and decide if they want to marry each other. We also don’t give or get engagement rings, so we don’t have this ridiculous competition over whose ring is bigger. Your thoughts?
DEAR ANTI-PROPOSAL: My thoughts are completely in line with yours. I am mystified that, given our society’s drive toward gender equality, we seem to be headed full-speed backward regarding relationship proposals.
Not only have marriage proposals become competitive, public and ridiculous, but I find the whole phenomenon of “promposals” (where young people make a production out of asking one another to a high school dance) less charming than alarming.
Furthermore, I think that if couples treated the prospect of marriage more as equals and bravely discussed it openly with one another (instead of one waiting for a proposal and a ring), there might be more balanced, long-term marriages as a result.
I’m sure readers will want to weigh in.
DEAR AMY: Your reply to “Worried” regarding her negative feelings toward her stepdaughter was so compassionate and beautifully put. You could not have explained the dynamic between them any better. I especially like the part about how “negative” aspects of the girl’s personality (according to the stepmom) will serve her well in life. On behalf of that girl, thank you.
DEAR GRATEFUL: Thank you for your comments.
I am a stepmother who frequently sees the world through the eyes of stepchildren. They have no power over the choices made by the adults in their lives. It’s no wonder that they sometimes fiercely defend themselves against the emotional (and actual) encroachment of stepparents.
The stepfamily relationship is extremely challenging. But when it works well, this relationship is a powerful force for good.