DEAR AMY: I am 23 years old and have a six-year-old son. We live at home with my parents. It's awful. We don't get along, and they never want me to be alone with my son.
I'm a great mother, but they don't think I am. I want to move out, but they said I can't take my son with me if I move out.
They are making it completely impossible for me to enjoy my life, so I work three jobs just to avoid them (they take care of my son while I work). I am saving for rent on an apartment.
They said if I move out they are going to fight me in court for custody. I want to move out, but I don't want to ruin my family. What do I do? -- Need to Live My Life
DEAR NEED: I see this from your parents' perspective as well as yours. You had a baby when you were a teenager. You deal with tension by avoiding your parents, thus leaving your son to their care. The more time they spend raising him, the less time you spend raising him. This does not show great judgment on your part.
You have to try to be objective and make whatever choice is best for your child. Is his life stable and peaceful? Are your parents doing a good job with him?
Your parents cannot get custody of your child unless they can prove that you are dangerously unfit. The fact that you want to make these independent decisions is a good thing, but it is alarming that you have gotten to the point where you and your parents are making threats, instead of arriving at workable solutions.
You should seek the assistance of a social worker with your local department of children and family services. You need parenting classes and mentoring toward a more independent life for yourself -- and also help to mediate this with your parents.
Ideally, you would choose to live nearby so your folks could continue to spend time with their grandchild.
DEAR AMY: We have a family issue that is causing resentment, and I hope you can offer some advice. It's about money.
We are baby boomers who worked hard, handled our money well and saved. We started out with nothing over 46 years ago and now find ourselves with a nice nest egg. We do not live large or extravagantly, but we have financial security.
There are other family members our age who did not follow the same path. Now that we are all at retirement age, resentment has reared its ugly head. At most family occasions, a relative will openly express resentment toward us in a blaring way in front of others.
It's difficult to plan or attend any kind of family gathering without some nasty, sarcastic comment or nosy question directed our way.
We have done our best to change the conversation and turn the other cheek, but it's getting to the boiling point. My husband and I are modest people, and we do not know how to handle this, as we want to keep peace in the family, especially in our golden years.
Any suggestions? -- The Seniors
DEAR SENIORS: To some extent, your ability to ignore this without having it affect you would be evidence that you have reached your goal to be not only financially but also personally secure.
Bullies often act out by marshalling aggression to cover up for insecurity.
You should adopt a stance of: We have nothing to defend or apologize for.
So the next time someone makes a rude statement publicly to you, you should respond with a version of, "What's the problem, Bernice? You seem very unhappy."
DEAR AMY: "Lonely and Confused" lives with an ex as a roommate and wants to move in with a mom with two daughters after knowing her for a month.
Forget about moving too fast. That is a given. How about he gets his own place for a while? He is looking for a place to live cheaply. He is not concerned about "Cindy" and her kids. -- Disgusted
DEAR DISGUSTED: I concur.