Ask Amy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 8:12pm
Amy Dickinson

DEAR AMY: I work at a community college, which has recently remodeled buildings on campus. They put in two (not one, but two!) lactation rooms for nursing mothers to use, though the student handbook states that students should not bring kids to the classroom during classes (as if the college needed this — go figure).

We have a staff member who had a baby about nine months ago, and she leaves her desk to pump the milk three times a day for 20 minutes each (that's one hour a day!).

I had no problem with this — until she told several people about two months ago that her son stopped breast-feeding, but she wasn't really ready to give up her "mommy time." She continues to pump her breasts each day, because it's good birth control and she continues to lose the baby weight!

None of us would be allowed to leave our desk an hour of the day to exercise — so why should she be allowed to pump her breasts to lose weight?

Let me make it clear — she is not doing this during break, but during work time, and no one says a word.

I realize this is 2009, but we feel this employee has taken this too far.

What do you think?

— Fairness For All

DEAR FAIRNESS:
I applaud your college's commitment to supporting the needs of mothers who want to work, further their educations and feed their babies naturally.

But let's clear up a few things.

Your co-worker's baby might have stopped breast-feeding, but her child could still be consuming breast milk through a bottle, necessitating her pumping her breasts during the day.

Lactation does not provide consistent birth control. If your co-worker believes this commonly held misconception (excuse the pun), it could lead to an unexpected pregnancy — not to mention your further lacto-resentment.

Breast-feeding does not necessarily hasten weight loss after a baby's birth.

If your co-worker's pumping schedule is interfering with her work to the extent that it impinges on your ability to do your job — or disrupts the functioning of the office, then you should bring this up with your supervisor.


DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I are juniors in college. My boyfriend isn't able to room with his current roommate next year, so he somewhat reluctantly asked a guy from our social group to room with him. The problem is that I don't really get along well with the new roommate and his girlfriend.

I get angry easily and work very hard to keep myself in check, but these two tend to push just the right buttons to make my temper flare.

My general policy has been to stay away except when spending time with our mutual friends, who help to create a buffer between us. I'm worried that we will be obliged to spend more time with these two.

My boyfriend is much mellower than I am, and things that I find grating he generally ignores, though he understands why I am bothered by them. I love him, but I despise these other characters. What to do?

— Flummoxed Girlfriend

DEAR FLUMMOXED: You admit to being quick to the trigger, so this presents an opportunity for you to work on your issues and develop some techniques for dealing with these button-pushers. While you work on your temper, ask your boyfriend if he could be more helpful.

Mainly, time is on your side. At your age, a summer-long break can make a huge difference in the maturity level and status of all parties involved.


DEAR AMY: "Wondering Stepdad" was worried about his stepson's ugly hairstyle. Stepdad needs to understand that boys (men too) need to express their individuality.

A friend of mine has a teenage son who constantly uses his sister's hot rollers, curling iron and other female hair items. This father was beside himself until I reminded him that when I had a perm way back when, I endured ongoing "wet sets" to keep the perm looking good — that was the deal when my mom allowed me to get a perm. — Hair Today, Gone Later

DEAR HAIR: Until this very moment I had forgotten about male perms — even though the coolest boys in my high school class all had them.

I agree with you that these hair phases are unimportant in the grand scheme of things — but make for hilarious yearbook photos.

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

3 Comments on this post:

By: rbyrd68 on 5/6/09 at 7:50

Why is Fairness for All so against breastfeeding? The school has a legal obligation to provide pumping facilities and time for nursing mothers. It is actually a law. Fairness states that the mother is no longer breastfeeding but that doesn't mean that she isn't giving her child breast milk in a bottle or donating the milk to a local hospital for use with preemies. Fairness may just be concerned about the hour that the mother is away from her desk but I also notice a lot of hostility in the letter. Fairness can go ahead and make a complaint with her supervisor but legally nothing can be done.

By: BenDover on 5/6/09 at 8:36

Dear Fairness.

It has nothing to do with you it's between the slacker baby-mom and her employer. Unless you are a supervisor and responsible for her results (lack of results) then it's got nothing to do with you. You will go very far if you learn to focus on your relationship with the employer rather than being bothered by another person's relationship with the employer. Such behavior is petty and distracts from your own excellence.

By: BenDover on 5/6/09 at 8:41

Dear Hair

Dad's rightly concerned about the potential of his son going homo. If he's dolling his hair with curlers and the like then it's time for a intervention.