Ask Amy

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 9:45pm

DEAR AMY: I am a 16-year-old girl. My mother and her sister, "Ruth," often have little skirmishes. My mother's side of the family is generally a dramatic bunch.

Drinking runs in the family, and Aunt Ruth is a chronic offender. This is one thing she and my mother clash about.

Over the past couple of years, Ruth has made a point of approaching me, claiming she wants to "talk" about my mother. She wants to gripe about my mother's behavior and expects me to back her up.

My mom and I have had a few very rocky patches in our relationship, but we have worked things out.

Ruth, however, seems to think that she and I should battle together against what she seems to think is a common enemy.

Amy, I don't know what to do. My own problems with my mom have nothing to do with hers.

I love my aunt and don't want to hurt her feelings, but I feel like these problems shouldn't be brought to me, but to my mom.

How do I tell Ruth this, without making it seem like I think she's in the wrong?

— Stuck

DEAR STUCK: It is very kind of you to want to spare your aunt's feelings, but she is behaving in a way that is disrespectful, unkind and wrong — and it's OK to be truthful about how her actions affect you.

Your aunt should not seek to involve you in her sibling dramas with your mother and she should not interfere in your relationship with your mom by enlisting you as her ally.

You could attribute her behavior to her drama, drinking — or whatever. You don't have to know why she is behaving poorly in order to ask her to stop.

You just say, "Aunt Ruth, please don't involve me in this. It makes me uncomfortable. If you have a problem with mom, you should talk to her about it. Thanks for understanding."


DEAR AMY: My sister and her fiance have decided to name their firstborn child after me. While I am flattered and honored, I can't help but feel pressured into allowing them to do this.

Neither my sister nor I is religious, but we were raised Jewish and in our tradition only name people after deceased relatives, so this seems like bad foreshadowing in some respect. Additionally, if some family quarrel were to come up in the future, it might complicate the situation.

I know that in the Catholic faith (which she is marrying into) it is considered a huge honor to have a child named for you.

Should I figure out how to cope, or should I confront my sibling and risk insulting her and her fiance?

— No Namesake

DEAR NO: You don't say whether your sister is even pregnant with this future firstborn child, so this conversation might be a preemie, but if she brings it up, tell her you're flattered but feel superstitious about this naming. Then say you would be honored with a middle name (if this is the case).

You don't have to see this as a confrontation, but a conversation.

Please remember, however, that your sister can use any name she likes for her child and you — not she — will ultimately be in charge of the relationship you share with that child.

DEAR AMY: You gave terrible advice to "Dilemma," who wanted to leave her salaried position and strike out on her own as a real estate agent.

This is not about real estate; this is about taking charge of your life and financial future. Those who have ambition and work hard will succeed, perhaps wildly so. Those who expect others to look out for them will always be disappointed. The correct advice would be to get educated, get a solid plan, get your finances in order and pursue your own dreams.

— Gary

DEAR GARY: "Dilemma" had a dream but no realistic plan for getting there. This is no time to strike out on your own unless you have several months of living expenses and training under your belt.

I urged Dilemma to stay in her salaried position until she could make her dream a "reality."

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