Life Advice



Ask Amy: Dad seems to vie for his son’s attention

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

You should ask your guy to be honest with you regarding his son’s affection for you. Let him know that you will support his relationship with his child in whatever ways the father needs, including making sure the two have plenty of alone time. If this dad can establish a nice routine (a “Dad’s night” followed by a playdate with you the next day), this will give the two more time to bond and create unique and private experiences for them to share.

Dear Amy: I recently graduated college and was surprised to receive a card and $100 in the mail from an uncle I am somewhat estranged from.

He is a toxic person who is very difficult to be around, although I've always tried to be cordial. He has truly caused hurt for people in my family and shows no signs of changing.

I decided to thank him for his gift through a nice, private Facebook message.

He replied graciously. My parents found out, however, and are angry that I didn't call to thank him personally for such a generous gift.

They said if I'm so against having a relationship with him, I should return the money, but Amy, in my current financial situation, I can't afford to pass up a gift, and I think it would do more harm than good to return it!

I can't bear the thought of speaking with this person on the phone.

What should I do? — New Graduate

Dear Graduate: You have reached a milestone in your development. One aspect of this stage in your life is that you can (and should) take your parents’ recommendations into account, but you don’t have to follow them.


In terms of your relationship to this particular uncle, you are not a placeholder for the rest of the family. You thanked him sincerely through a private channel, and he acknowledged your thanks.

I agree with you that returning this money is unwarranted and would be extremely insulting. This sort of behavior is how longstanding estrangements gain fuel.

You have already thanked your uncle, but if you also popped a card in the mail reiterating your thanks and adding a couple of details about your plans for the future, it would be appropriate, and he would no doubt welcome it. I assume your mother would also be satisfied.

Dear Amy: “Befuddled Guest” was struggling handling a fellow guest’s gender transition because she hadn’t been told in advance.

I agree with you that this could have been handled differently by all parties, but most importantly, Befuddled didn’t bother to introduce herself. Why is it the other person’s job to make Befuddled feel more comfortable? — Aware

Dear Aware: Exactly. When you introduce yourself, and ask for someone else’s name, you have all the information you need.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)




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