Ask Amy: A ‘bad aunt’ gets grief from her family

February 7

DEAR AMY: I am in my late 20s and single. I have a 7-year-old nephew and another niece/nephew on the way.

Truth be told, I don’t like kids. I love babies, but once they grow out of the irresistible cuddly phase they seem like loud, grabby, sticky-handed terrors. I truly love my bright little nephew. I enjoy spending time with him, but I don’t enjoy playing with him.

I’ve been chided for not talking to him like a child but more like an adult. I don’t know how to “talk down.”

Lately I’ve been getting some lighthearted grief about not being a “good aunt,” and with the new baby on the way I’m feeling guilty and introspective. I guess I’m wondering if I am being a bad aunt for not wanting to baby-sit or spend kid time with my nephew as a kid. Should I change? And how? I should mention I’m a great gift-giver, and I can’t wait for him to grow up! -- Bad Aunt

DEAR AUNT: If you were an uncle and not an aunt, would your family members expect you to baby-sit and brand you as “bad” if you didn’t enjoy “alone time” with their offspring? Probably not.

I can tell you from personal experience that being an aunt is just about the greatest relationship experience there is, partly because it is a relationship that you can define (partly) on your own terms. Some aunts/uncles are superinvolved all the way through life, while others (like you) pass through phases and stages of involvement.

The only change you need to make is to realize that when you are with young children it can enhance your own experience to try to see the world through their eyes, hence the “talking down” to children and letting kids occasionally direct the action through play.

However, you should not be made to feel guilty if this sort of involvement is not for you.

DEAR AMY: I have been dating someone for five months. We are planning to take a trip to Las Vegas with his parents soon.

He’s been a sweet and caring guy for all the time we have dated, but last weekend I had a friend join us for a beer, and my boyfriend started spouting off very personal information and laughing about it. For example, he talked about how it only took him a few weeks to get me into bed, and he disclosed other, embarrassing information about me.

My friend looked at me and mouthed, “Did he actually just say that?” It was humiliating and totally different from the man I know.

I recently changed my Facebook status to “in a relationship,” and he deleted that reference from his page. After I asked him about it, he deactivated his entire page.

It was a blow to me that he would rather deactivate his entire account than state that he’s in a relationship. He hasn’t called or texted me in the last two days, and I don’t know what I should do. We haven’t had a heated argument or anything, so I’m not sure what is going on.

He said I’m just being “testy” when I tried bringing it up. I don’t feel like going all the way to Vegas with him acting the way he has been acting lately. Please, I need some advice. What should I do? -- Disheartened

DEAR DISHEARTENED: If this guy blundered because he’d had a little too much to drink, or was nervous about meeting your friend, then his rudeness might be explainable and forgivable.

When someone blunders and then blames you for it, that’s just rude, insulting and juvenile. Is this someone you want to go to Vegas with? Please say no. Your relationship is enough of a crapshoot as it is.

DEAR AMY: I could really relate to the letter from “So Sad,” whose beloved cat died suddenly. As the owner of many wonderful companion animals, I can identify with the grief and sadness. I agree with your recommendations about how to memorialize this pet and would like to add that her local vet will probably have contact information for a pet-loss support group. -- Animal Lover

DEAR ANIMAL LOVER: Good suggestion. Thank you.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2014 by the Chicago Tribune

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