DEAR AMY: I am a single mom and have been with my boyfriend for about three years. He has lived with me for more than a year. He is a good man, but he is no longer good to me.
He works shift work, so my time with him is already limited. He ignores me the majority of the time and does absolutely nothing around the house. He comes around on weekends sometimes and will be affectionate and wants to be sexually intimate with me.
When I ask him if something is wrong he says "no" in a hateful manner, as if he's angry that I even have concern for him.
I have tried to just do my own thing by taking my son out more and doing more things with friends, but it's not helping. I am so stressed all the time, and it is affecting my work life. I want him to fill the space in my heart that he used to.
— End of My Rope
DEAR ROPE: I realize this is very challenging, but you — not your boyfriend — bear the sole responsibility for filling that empty space in your heart. Choosing to cohabit with someone who ignores you when he's not using you sexually makes that space in your heart grow larger and deeper.
Your coping instincts are right — to build up other relationships and throw yourself into being a good mom to your son — but some of that good work is undone when you spend time with someone who treats you badly.
Your function as a mother is to determine what is in your son's best interest and then take whatever steps necessary to make sure his life is good and his heart doesn't have a "space" in it.
While a mother/child relationship should not be a substitute for a loving relationship between two adults, you should demonstrate your strength to your son by exiting from a relationship that has become toxic. Give your boyfriend an opportunity to work on and repair your relationship — but if he refuses to treat you well, then he should move out and you should move on.
The men in your son's life should be strong, respectful and ethical. These basic qualities should serve as guidelines for you too.
DEAR AMY: I have a set of boy-girl twins graduating from high school this spring and am planning a joint graduation party. They have different friends, but are acquainted with each other's friends. How should we word invitations so that guests know we don't expect two presents, one for each twin?
Also, we would like to invite some favorite teachers but don't feel right asking for gifts from these teachers. We would like these teachers at the party because we like them as people and want to honor their efforts. How should we word that?
— Wondering Mom
DEAR MOM: The way I read this, you'd like your daughter's guests to bring a gift for only her and your son's guests should bring a gift exclusive to him.
Teachers shouldn't bring gifts at all, but family members will want to bring two gifts for the kids.
There is simply no way to word this gracefully — and gifts should not be mentioned on the invitation.
I assume you've already ruled out asking guests not to bring any gifts, so when your guests RSVP to your party, you can let them know your gift parameters by saying to one of your daughter's guests (for instance), "I realize that you may want to bring a gift for Charlene, but please don't feel the need to also bring a gift for Joseph."
To teachers, you'll want to say, "This is our way of trying to thank you so please don't bring a gift — you've already given our family so much."
DEAR AMY: "A Faithful Reader" suggests that for a second baby shower, appropriate gifts "for Mom" might be a massage gift certificate, a luxurious bathrobe or baby-sitting services.
I thought a baby shower was for the baby. Since when does a baby shower mean personal gifts for the mom?
I don't mean to sound cranky, but it just doesn't sound appropriate.
— Another Faithful Reader
DEAR ANOTHER: Baby showers are meant to celebrate the birth of a new baby. Sometimes this translates into things for "mom," but I hope this spirit of celebration could also inspire generosity toward mothers and babies in the community who are truly in need.
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