Ask Amy

Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 9:00pm

DEAR AMY: I am 10 years old and my parents are divorced. My mother remarried, and I have a stepfather.

My mother often calls my father and fights with him.

I love her more than anyone, but she runs to me for support and I don't want to give it to her. I feel as if she wants me to take sides.

I feel as if I am stuck in the middle of this situation.

How do I get out?

— Confused and Upset

DEAR CONFUSED: Your mother should never put you in the middle of her personal issues with your dad.

Furthermore, even though they are divorced, the same rule that applies to all parents should also apply to them: Don't fight in front of the kids!

Your mother should also learn that asking you to take sides is not fair to you.

You need to have the best possible relationship with both of your parents. That's why they must try harder to work out their problems without involving you.

I'm going to suggest that you do a difficult thing and tell your mom exactly how you feel about this. After you explain, you'll have to ask her to do things differently.

It can be hard for a child to ask a parent to behave differently, but you should try.

We parents learn new things from our kids every day — and your mother can learn from you.


DEAR AMY: I have a good friend who lives in another state. We see each other about twice a year.

When she visits me, she gives me money at the end of her stay.

I feel very uncomfortable accepting money from a friend when she is my guest.

When I stay at her home, I usually bring a gift of wine or something else she might like, though she won't let me pick up her check for any meals (we split the check).

On my last visit, I left a note with some money in the envelope. When I called her to tell her that I had arrived home safely, she thanked me for the money but said I had given her too much.

I am totally confused. I have never stayed at anyone's house and given them money or accepted money in return for my hospitality. I always treat friends as guests in my home and do not expect anything in return.

I don't need the money.

Is this the new etiquette?

— Perplexed

DEAR PERPLEXED:
Unless you are some sort of paid escort, your friend should not leave money for you at the end of her visit.

The first time this happened, you should have sent the money back to her. Instead, you entered into her strange host-world.

Standard protocol when visiting friends is for the guest to treat the host to a meal or experience during the visit (my friend Kirk painted my hallway last time he visited, which makes me look forward to next time).

Mainly, your job as guest is to be good company during the visit and accept with appreciation your host's hospitality, reciprocating when you can.

You two should work this out before it gets even more out of hand.


DEAR AMY: I'm responding to the inquiry from the woman wondering if she could bring home ham left over on her plate at a dinner party.

Her husband said it was rude, and you agreed.

I think you were way off.

With the economy as it is today, what a waste of food!

If she helped herself and took an extra large piece of ham, then shame on her; however, if it was served to her then shame on her hosts and on her husband for frowning on her for wanting to take it home.

That piece of ham could very well have made a sandwich for herself and her husband, or a snack with cheese and crackers for the children or maybe a snack for their dog or cat.

They need to start thinking about all the hungry people and animals in the world as they scrape perfectly good food from each plate into the trash can.

— Angry Fan

DEAR ANGRY: My thinking is that it is the host's job to decide what to do with food served at his or her table. Perhaps the host has a hungry pet at home that would enjoy a tasty leftover.

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles