DEAR AMY: I have been enjoying a group of friends for the past 10years.
During the past year I have had a real problem over their pontificating about their political point of view.
I am the only person in the group with a different political view.
The past four times I've seen them, I've come home feeling very upset about their bashing of the new president.
I did not act like that when the previous administration was in office.
We have had some angry, awkward moments and it makes me want to stay home and avoid the whole thing.
I have tried to tell them I feel bullied, but they always say we all should be able to express our opinions and I shouldn't take it personally. What would you suggest that I do?
DEAR LINDA: I recently heard Glenn Beck refer to the president as a socialist and call filmmaker Michael Moore a "fatty-fatty fatso."
Is this the sort of civilized intellectual discourse our foremothers and — fathers had in mind when building this great nation? Probably not.
But while you may have been sheltered from this sort of passion during the Bush years, I remember many heated, shocking and extremely disrespectful bashing sessions coming from the left — both through the media and privately.
Yelling is the unfortunate reaction of people trying to mitigate their powerlessness.
We live in fascinating times, and you might benefit from understanding the passion of the other side. Don't let your friends bait or bully you, and don't feel you must defend practices or policies they find indefensible.
If you don't want to participate, you can do your best to change the subject, but if you can't and still want to spend time in their presence, listen passively or (my trick) offer to wash the dishes.
DEAR AMY: I have been dating a guy for about seven months and I think that we are happy, but whenever I don't answer my phone he blows up at me.
He has anger problems and sometimes he worries me.
I love him. He is sweet but he is mean to me sometimes.
He punches walls when he gets mad and when we are arguing, and I am scared that one day he is going to hit me. Should I stay with him or let him go? I'm afraid.
— Frightened Girlfriend
DEAR FRIGHTENED: Your boyfriend shows signs of being an abuser and if you continue to be with him, the abuse will escalate.
Love should never translate to fear. You should leave.
If you are afraid of how he will react when you leave, prepare to stay with a friend, change your phone number and alter your habits.
You can learn more about the signs of abuse and how to leave this relationship by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. The organization's very helpful Web site is a valuable resource: www.ndvh.org.
DEAR AMY: As a pediatrician (and father of two), I believe your advice to "Wondering Dad" was wrong. He wondered when to stop letting his 3-1/2-year-old son sleep between him and his wife. First, it is absolutely dangerous for an infant to be in its parents' bed. Albeit rare, infants die in their parents' bed as a result of suffocation from a parent inadvertently rolling onto the infant as well as getting trapped between the mattress and the bed itself.
As a pediatrician, I recommend that the infant be placed (at a minimum) in a bassinet next to the parents' bed or, better yet, in his own room across the hall from the parents' room.
— A. Rzepka, M.D.
DEAR DR: To clarify, infants should never sleep in a grown-up's bed. Never. I don't think there's anything wrong with keeping a baby in the parents' room during the early months of frequent feedings. This question had to do with an older child.
Co-sleeping with older children seems to be a hot-button issue, but — health risks aside — I cannot imagine that a family could get a good night's sleep when all are tossing and turning together, as I advised "Dad."
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org