Ask Amy: Dad’s computer history reveals unsavory sites

July 3, 2012

DEAR AMY: I share a home computer with my father. Unfortunately, the computer history shows everything that happens within a week, and it shows that my dad has been looking at pornography.

My parents are divorced, and I realize he might be lonely, but I don’t know how to approach it or if I even should. My dad and I are close, and I don’t want the awkwardness of this to ruin our relationship.

Should I ignore this and live with the awkwardness, or confront him and possibly ruin our relationship? -- Awkward

DEAR AWKWARD: Ignoring a problem or situation is always the easiest thing to do in the short-term but it seldom works long-term because family issues don’t just go away. They lie in wait (under the carpet, where you’ve swept them), ready to come back — usually when you least expect it.

Your father has a right to his own habits, however odious, as long as they aren’t illegal or harming him or someone else. (I believe that porn is harmful to all parties, but consenting adults have the right to make depressing choices.)

If you don’t want to discuss this outright with your father (and who would?), you can split the difference by simply telling him, “Dad, the history of any previous searches shows up on our computer. If you don’t want me to see what Web sites you’ve visited, you should clear out the history every day.”

The awkwardness will subside, but if it doesn’t and if you are concerned about your father (for this or any other reason), you should respectfully and forthrightly share your concerns.

DEAR AMY: My son is 31 years old and has had only two serious relationships. He has been seeing a co-worker for several months since meeting at a Christmas party, and she has moved into his home along with her two children (they are ages 3 and 16 months).

I am very happy my son has found someone who makes him happy. My question concerns what these children should call me? They call my son by his first name.

I am not comfortable having them call me grandmother or any other form thereof, or any cute made-up name.

I would rather they call me by my first name, but my son and the children’s mother prefer they call me some reference to grandma. What do you think? -- Jane

DEAR JANE: This is a commonly posed question in this space, and while this issue sometimes seems trivial on the surface, it is important because it has to do with identity.

It would be one thing if you were insisting on being addressed as “Grandma.” You are not. You are asking that you be called by your name. Why is this unacceptable?

The inconsistency about this is confusing. It is okay for the kids to address your son by his first name — they aren’t making the kids call him “Daddy” (a choice I agree with) — but you have to be “Grammie?”

This domestic situation seems to have progressed quite rapidly, hence the confusion. Marriage might clarify matters for everyone. This is relevant because if they had taken more time, everyone (including the kids and you) would have had plenty of time to figure out how to be addressed.

I agree that the children should call you by your first name.

DEAR AMY: “Upset” was a college student who described playing a “truth or dare” game in which the loser (Upset) had to endure the preselected punishment. The student was upset and wanted to sever ties with the group.

You said this was hazing! This wasn’t a fraternity or sports team; this was a group of friends playing a game! Amy, sometimes people just need to buck up, take their “punishment” and get over it! -- Angry

DEAR ANGRY: “Upset” described this as a “sort of hazing that lasted for several hours.”

This sort of organized, group behavior is in fact hazing — and it got out of control. I agreed with “Upset’s” choice to ditch this group.

Calling something what it is and standing up to the perpetrators is “bucking up” in my book.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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