Friday, April 03, 2009

Aaron's Unwanted Advice (4/3/09 Edition)

DEAR ELLIE: I'm married to a man of two personalities: sweet, docile man and sexually addicted liar. After my previous divorce, we dated for five years, during which he had an affair. We broke up and eventually reconciled. Since marrying, there've been hints of him visiting porn sites. When confronted, he'd be Mr. Nice Guy. However, he never had time to help the family or provide for us.

He's a compulsive spender even when he doesn't have a job. I've always provided for the family. Last year, he admitted he'd been seeing high-price prostitutes since we married. I then realized why I contracted an STD (which he'd blamed on his prior indiscretion).

Now we're separated but he kept coming back -- charming, nice and even shared his phone record (not e-mails) to prove his "innocence." I received gifts and flowers, and it's very tempting. However, he refused to see a counselor. Are my feelings persisting because I'm lonely or am I a "co-dependent"?



Neither. You’re just not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

The man cheated on you during a five-year relationship, has never contributed to the household, patronizes hookers and gave you an STD, for Christ’s sakes.

How many bricks do you need to fall on your head?? You need a CT scan. And under no circumstances let this man back into your life. Tell him to save the money he spends on flowers (assuming he hasn’t stolen them from a cemetery), and use it to buy a Chevy Vega to live in.

DEAR AMY: My wife has been invited to a baby shower. The expectant mother is our 21-year-old grandson's girlfriend. They are not married.

I am against honoring this lack of commitment and their unwed pregnancy with a gift, which says we approve of what they're doing.

My wife says the gift is for the baby, and therefore it is OK. In addition, she is fearful of hurting our grandson.

What should we do?



Buy a damned gift. Whether or not these two are legally hitched, that baby is still your great-grandchild. Do you want to punish the kid because its parents haven’t been through The Pageantry? And your wife is right, there’s no point in hurting your grandson. You can find plenty of other ways to express your Old Man disapproval—you can threaten him with disinheritance, lecture him sternly about good old-fashioned family values (throwing in a few good anecdotes about walking back and forth to school, uphill both ways), and blast Fox News when he comes in the house. Have fun with those, Grandpa Grumps.

In the meantime, if you do choose to go the disowning route, remember: you only have one will to cut him out of. There are many Christmases left for you guys to be alone (because if you think his parents won’t take his side, you’re bananas). Think about it.

DEAR ABBY: I have been living with a terrible secret for the past five years. I don't love my older son. He is very difficult and has been since infancy. Don't get me wrong -- I'd jump in front of a bus to save him -- but I don't like him.

I have a degree in psychology and have taught child development. I have taken parenting classes and read every book that's available on hard-to-manage children. But I have yet to find something that can help me, and I feel terribly alone. My husband tries, but he doesn't understand what it's like because he is mostly at work.

I am involved in parenting groups, playgroups, etc., but the other mothers all seem to be doing everything "better" than I am, and I have never heard any other mom admit to having negative feelings toward her kid.

What makes it worse is I adore my younger son and feel a special bond with him. I know this must be awful for the older boy because I'm sure he senses it, no matter how hard I try to hide it. But I don't know how to change what I feel. Abby, how can I change things? I desperately want to be the kind of mother my son deserves.



What is it with you child psychologists-cum-parents? You’re always into that “being totally honest and not-believing in hypocrisy” thing, so you insist that it’s “OK to admit to yourself that you love one child more than another.” What kid wouldn't be difficult if he had to live with that?

Please save your parental primal scream for when the kids are grown and you can take that nice, long Calgon bath—right now, your job is to be a good parent to both of them and not make it obvious that you like your younger son better. It’s bad enough that parents naturally tend to favor one kid over another anyway—you don’t need to rub the older one's nose in it.

How can you not to love your own child? Even Rhoda Penmark’s mother loved her, for Christ’s sake. It may be difficult to like them all the time, which is normal, and may be what you really mean. I sure hope so.

It’s always the kids of psychologists (especially ones like you) who are the most fucked up, so you’d better get his ass to a good child shrink before you end up turning out another David Berkowitz.

DEAR MARGO: When I was a teenager, my father cheated on my mother with his best friend’s wife (a close friend of my mother, or so my mother thought). Needless to say, my parents are now divorced. After leaving our family, my father neglected to stay in contact with us — despite the fact that he lived a few blocks away — and I have not spoken to him in 12 years.

Oddly enough, he sent my sisters and me a Christmas card this year and enclosed his telephone number. What is he trying to do? What is his motivation? I have long since dismissed my father from my life and find myself apathetic to the entire situation. I would like to continue living my life as I have been. Is this normal? What would you do in my place?



Send him a card back enclosing your phone number. That should make it clear that it's on him to pick up the phone and call.

I can understand not wanting to jump right back into a relationship with a father who disappeared from your life through no fault of your own, but leave the door open. There could have been lots of reasons that he never got in touch, and he may deserve the chance of at least explaining himself.

Having said that, there’s no reason why it should be up to you to make the first call, which is why you should just write back with your phone number. The message should be that you might be open to speaking with him, but he’s gonna have to work for it.

And if you do talk to him, and find that you’re still more comfortable keeping your distance, you can tell him that. You might find it therapeutic.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I employ five people in a small manufacturing setting. I encourage my employees to be friendly and have no problem with them talking during work or listening to the radio with their ear buds.

During the course of the day, I have occasional questions regarding the job. I will walk into the manufacturing area, and if I determine that the conversation is of a personal nature, I will politely stop the conversation and ask the business question at hand.

One of my employees thinks I should allow them to complete their personal chatter, and when they're finished, I can speak to them.

My feeling is that this is my time, and I pay the salary. When I have business to conduct, all else should come to a stop, and the business should be taken care of.
Am I being ill-mannered to expect that the workday is to come first?


No, you are not. If they are in the work area--where the purpose is work--they should expect that their pointless nattering may be legitimately interrupted at any time. They can use their break time or lunch hours to yabber about whatever stupid television show they gawked slackjawed at the evening before.

If they object, perhaps you should remind them that if they so choose, they can spend their entire days making inane chitchat at their prolonged leisure.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Dear Ellie letter: She isn't only a dull knife but if brains were Lard she wouldn't grease to big of a pan. (courtesy of Jed clampett)
The Dear Amy letter: sir, don't you think placing your Grandson in the Bastard file will hurt him?
The Dear Abby letter: first she needs to back and ask for a refund from whatever mail order school she got her Psychology degree from. Mothers don't only love their children every now and then, it's a love without end, Amen!
Dear Margo letter: Fathers don't only love their children every now and then, it's a love without end, Amen! He's your dad and it's time to let bygones be bygones. When he's gone for good you'll wish you had him back to tell him how you feel.
The Dear Miss Manners letter: All I can say is where can I fill out an application to work for this person?
Have a good weekend. ed

12:55 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I agree with everything you said, but I still think Dad's gonna be in the doghouse for a spell, as he should be. While you're right that he's her Dad forever and ever, he should have remembered it during those years he didn't contact her. I agree she should eventually reconcile with him, but he needs to earn her trust back before they can really reconnect. He must have known he would.

(And I hear people say, "But what if something happens to him before they make their peace?" Well, what if something had happened to HER during those 12 years of silence? How would HE have felt? So it really does cut both ways.)

9:46 PM  

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