Ask Amy

Friday, January 22, 2010 at 1:05am

DEAR AMY: My mom died about a year ago after a long illness. I'm in 10th grade and I continue to get A's in school and have a lot of friends, but it has been really hard.

Recently my dad decided to let his girlfriend, "Jenni," move in with us. I know my dad likes her company, but when she moved in I was still adjusting to life without my mother.

My teachers know that my mom died last year but not about my new living situation, which has left me unfocused and upset.

Jenni is nice and I like her, but my dad has also said that this relationship might not be permanent.

I want to be friendly, but I don't want to bond with her. When I see them together I just want to break down and cry.

I talk to my school counselor regularly and my dad took me to see a therapist, but after a couple of sessions I felt worse.

Recently my doctor said that Jenni moving in was her biggest health concern for me.

I want to talk to my dad about this, but I don't know what to say. Is there anything I could do to feel more comfortable and focused? Am I overreacting?

— Upset and Grieving


DEAR UPSET: Your loss is monumental — and your life is changing too fast.

Your dad is lonely and may feel that having another woman in the household will help both of you to move on. Obviously he is making mistakes, but he is grieving too.

Your father shouldn't have moved his girlfriend in with you — and his statement that the relationship with her might not be permanent is a terrible blunder. (For instance, I wonder if "Jenni" knows that he thinks this live-in relationship is temporary? I doubt it.)

He may have said this thinking that it would make you feel better, but obviously it has not.

You and your dad should see a counselor together. A thoughtful therapist could guide an honest conversation between the two of you.

Your community should also have a family grieving support group you could both join. Your school counselor and the hospital that treated your mother will have recommendations.

The conversation with your dad should start simply: "Dad, we need help."


DEAR AMY: I am fortunate to be included in wide and active social circles, yet have been saddened to discover that one of my acquaintances is not someone I can trust, and I am now uneasy in her presence.

I spoke with my husband after a recent incident and told him that I planned to distance myself from her.

At the very next gathering where she was present, my husband went out of his way to bring this acquaintance into a conversation with me.

He could have easily, without being rude, not made any overture to her.

He only knows her by association with me.

Am I being overly controlling to expect my husband to support my decision to limit contact with this person?

— Upset Wife

DEAR UPSET: It's not too much to ask your spouse to "watch your back" when you're out in the world, the same way he watches your purse when you're trying on jeans in the dressing room.

If your husband knew you felt threatened and yet proceeded to actively court this person's engagement, then you could interpret his actions as being just a wee bit hostile toward you.

You can't control someone else's behavior, however, and so if this happens again at a party, you can look at them both and say, "Oh look, I see Bernice over there. I'll just let you two catch up and talk to you later, honey."

Smile and let him sweat about the car ride home.


DEAR AMY: I have a 6-month-old son, and really would like to work from home to be with him, but when looking for a job I tend to only find scams.

What are some legit jobs that can be done from home?

I have a college degree and taught second grade for three years before I stopped to be with my son.

— Wondering Mom

DEAR MOM: It's a little surprising given your background that you haven't figured out that you could offer child care in your home as a way to bring in some income while continuing to raise your son.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

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