Ask Amy

Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 10:05pm

DEAR AMY: The time has come for me to finally move out on my own. My boyfriend and I have chosen to move in together.

I am 27 and he is 25. I have lived all my life with my mother (who has never been married) and my maternal grandfather.

My mother and I have always been close, but we've grown apart a bit since I started dating my boyfriend.

She has a controlling personality but either does not realize it or will not acknowledge it.

We have had issues in the past about me not spending enough time with her, which resulted in me having a rule at the age of 26 to be home for dinner three nights a week and to spend every Sunday with her.

Because of her controlling nature, I have been putting off telling her about moving in with my boyfriend.

We want to move in a few months, and I would like her to know in advance so it is not a shock.

I am wondering how to tell her and how far in advance should I tell her?

— Ready to Move On

DEAR READY: With your living at home, your mother could enforce rules, but once you leave you get to establish some rules of your own. And you will have to be as resolute as your mother is.

When you deliver this news don't beat around the bush. Say that the time has come to start your own life.

Wait until you have a signed lease and a move-in date and give her three weeks or so to adjust. If she has a hard time with this, you should lovingly reassure her. But you can't fix this for her.

Be aware that she may attempt to control you remotely, using a patented "mom" mechanism fueled by nuclear-strength guilt.

I can't help but interject my own "mom" wisdom here — I think it would be great if you could live on your own for a while.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend of nine months and I disagree on our sleep habits.

We live in separate apartments and sleep together three to four times a week.

He prefers to go to sleep after 12:30 a.m. at the earliest and gets up at 9 a.m., and I prefer to go to sleep by 11 p.m. because I have to get up at 7 a.m.

I feel like he should change his habits because it's benefiting him to get more sleep. I'm exhausted the next day if I have to stay up that late.

I don't want to go to bed at different times; we're not married, we still need that pre-sleep cuddling and togetherness time.

Any ideas?

— Exhausted

DEAR EXHAUSTED: It is your responsibility — not your boyfriend's — to regulate your sleep so as not to exhaust yourself.

I agree with you, however, that the person who needs the earlier sleep time should influence the overall nighty-night schedule.

I have never met anyone who shared my own quirky circadian rhythm; I tend to wander around at all hours, eating cereal and making lists.

But I still go to bed at a decent hour, because no one who is up late should pressure a partner to also stay up late.

DEAR AMY: I ask you to revisit your advice to the "Ontario Grandparent" whose 5-year-old granddaughter is afraid of death.

At a family gathering an older family member was chatting happily with others when she collapsed. She was dead by the time she hit the ground.

This was particularly hard for her young granddaughters, 8 and 10 years old at the time.

Far better than your suggestion to say, "I'm not going anywhere soon" is to teach the child that death is a part of life and it behooves each of us to make the most of what we have while we have it.

That includes enjoyment of the moment.

— Faithful Reader

DEAR READER: Your life lesson is great. But the child in this scenario had already been taught about death and had decided she wouldn't celebrate any birthdays for fear of growing older. I felt that at this point a little mature reassurance was in order.

Send questions via email to askamy@tribune.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

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