DEAR AMY: I am a 12-year-old boy in a strict Italian Catholic family.
Recently I have been reading lots of Jewish texts. I want to start conversion to Judaism after my 13th birthday in March, but I don't think my parents will be supportive. I haven't actually brought it up yet.
Should I say anything, or should I hold my peace until moving out of the house in five years? Honestly, I don't think it can wait that long.
There is a burden on my heart that can only be eased by freedom to worship at a temple, celebrating Shabbat and keeping kosher. Whenever I make the slightest reference about Judaism my mom says, "You're not Jewish, so stop talking about it!"
Recently I tried celebrating a Jewish holiday and my brothers and sisters teased me. I want to convert and be finished with my conversion before college and celebrate Judaism for the rest of my life.
I have thought deeply about this for a long time -- almost a year. What do you think I should do? How would I go about telling them (if that is the right idea)? -- Confused
DEAR CONFUSED: Your parents are already aware of your interest in Judaism, and I hope they choose to support this important spiritual journey. If it is possible for you to do so, you should meet with your local rabbi to find out about the process of conversion and to gather his wisdom about how to approach this with your folks. If your family members are regular church goers, you could also seek to speak with your church's youth pastor or parish priest.
At some point you are going to have to speak with your parents about this. You should start the process by asking them, seriously and sincerely: "I would like to explore converting to Judaism. Will you support me in doing this?" Asking them outright: "Will you support this?" may prompt a "yes."
If they dismiss your effort at conversion, you may be able to get them to compromise by allowing you to attend Jewish services without converting.
DEAR AMY: Facebook has created problems with unwanted guests. We are seniors living in the mountains. Everyone wants to visit our area. Facebook friends say, "We are coming to visit you," (not your state or your city, but you)! They do not wait to be invited.
We do not know many of these people and live remotely by choice. With Facebook and GPS they are able to land right on our doorstep. Then they would like us to drive them around, take them to dinner, pick up the cheque, etc.
Some will intrude for days! Yes, we are open to FB friends but not as guests. How do we head them off at the pass? -- Weary in the West
DEAR WEARY: I hope you are exaggerating. First of all, turn off the "location services" in the settings area of Facebook. There is no need for every Facebook friend to be able to geographically triangulate you and land on your doorstep. Don't say exactly where you live and don't let FB disclose it either.
Most important, you really need to learn to say no. It's simple, really. You just say, "Sorry, we don't want to have houseguests."
DEAR AMY: This is a suggestion for "Drowning in Baby Supplies."
I am an aunt to 13 nieces and nephews. Birthdays, Christmases and special occasions can get expensive for me.
I decided that at age five, instead of giving a present I put money into an investment account for them to receive when they are 18.
They can use the money however they wish, be it to buy a computer for college or help buy their first car.
In a card, they receive the monthly statement showing their account, in which I discuss how investment values go up and down, and teach them risk tolerance and adjusting investments accordingly.
Although my gift is lame while they are too young to appreciate it, I become the coolest aunt when they get a huge cheque on their 18th birthday. -- Aunt Money Bags
DEAR AUNT: This is a fantastic idea. Thank you.