Ask Amy: Hero in war spirals down in peace

November 7, 2013

DEAR AMY: I am one of five friends who served in Afghanistan. “David” is (in our eyes) the true hero of our group. He is the main reason three of us returned home to our families.

Now honorably discharged, we and our families meet once a year for a cookout and mini reunion. Last year, though, David informed us he had lost his job and could not attend.

This year, David told us that he and his wife had separated and were headed for divorce. Our group paid David’s expenses in an effort to cheer him up. Then, when his cellphone was disconnected, I surfed the Internet for an e-mail address or new phone number. Imagine my shock when his name and picture popped up on a sex offender registry!

I am not sure what to do. I want to speak with him about this before I say anything to anyone else. He saved lives when we were under fire. What do you think? -- Friend Under Fire

DEAR FRIEND: You should handle this by being loving, kind and transparent toward someone who has faced (and continues to face) extreme life challenges. It sounds like your friend has a multitude of problems — and many friends and supporters.

The fact is, you do not know the nature of his offense (or even if there is one). Reach out and tell him exactly what you’ve learned, and offer to listen if he wants to talk.

DEAR AMY: My wife has grown children from a prior marriage; they make a good living. I like her children very much. However, they frequently ask us out to dinner, pick an expensive restaurant, order from the two or three most-expensive items on the menu and leave me to pay the bill.

They typically reject our offers of a home-cooked meal in favor of eating out. Any occasion will suffice to justify eating out. (My birthday seems to be the only exception.) But I was raised to believe that it is poor manners, even downright rude, to ask others out to eat and leave them to pay the bill.

I feel that I am being exploited, while my wife thinks I am being cheap. What is your view? -- Feeling Fleeced

DEAR FLEECED: I agree with you that it is ill-mannered to invite someone (or initiate the suggestion to go) out to dinner, choose the restaurant and then expect the invited guest to pay the bill.

If your wife thinks you are cheap because this bothers you, then you should ask her to take over this parental privilege.

I believe that one of the most satisfying aspects of adulthood is the ability to generously treat others to a meal (or other experience). You have had ample opportunities to experience this particular joy. Now others can take their turns.

Bring this up directly with the other adults in a positive way the next time they propose a dinner out. You can say, “We’d love to go out but I think it would be great for your mom and me if you could treat. How does that sound to you?”

DEAR AMY: As a mother and grandmother I was stunned by your reply to the young parents of a 2-week-old baby who was passed from person to person, many of whom didn’t support her head. Your response should have been, “No parents should pass around their 2-week-old baby!”

A 2-week-old can be seen as she lies in her crib or bassinet or in her parents’ arms. Visitors shouldn’t be breathing on her, kissing her or otherwise exposing her to their germs or generally mishandling her. Wait until she’s a few months old before subjecting her to all this. And even then, don’t pass her around like she’s the salt on the dinner table. -- Appalled

DEAR APPALLED: Your model of keeping a new baby in a bubble until it’s a “few months old” simply doesn’t work in many families, who have other children at home, baby-sitters, aunts, uncles and grandparents helping out — and a more open attitude about integrating a baby into the swirling life of the family.

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.

by the Chicago Tribune

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