Pay no heed to those people waving at you!

January 23, 2012

DEAR AMY: Our son came back to live with us three years ago after completing his PhD. He has living quarters on the lower level of our home. He is 30 years old and we feel he should have some privacy, so he can come and go as he pleases.

He helps his father out around the house when asked, but he does not contribute to the house fund. However, he does buy food every now and then.

We do not need his money so we are comfortable with the way things are financially. The only thing we have asked of him is that when a friend comes over we would like him to introduce the friend to us out of respect.

Are we old-fashioned? He says that when you introduce a woman to the family it is basically saying you are in a serious relationship.

Is this the new rule? What do you think? -- Curious Parents

DEAR PARENTS: Your son is referring to a long-established convention: the idea of “bringing someone home to meet the folks.”

This implies that a romantic relationship is serious — serious enough, anyway, to travel somewhere for the express purpose of introducing a friend to the ’rents.

However, when you are a 30-year-old living in your parents’ basement, bringing someone home to meet the folks doesn’t imply anything about your romantic relationship. It simply means that you have wandered into an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Your son may tell dates that the older couple shouting, “Yoo hoo,” from the upper window of his bachelor pad are the caretakers on his modest estate. And you are, in a way.

He might be embarrassed to reveal that he is living with Mom and Dad.

I agree that he should show you the respect to introduce visitors to you, but he sounds like someone who has had very little asked of him, and so it is not surprising that he is refusing this small courtesy.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been together for five years and for all intents and purposes are a family, along with my teen daughters and his preschooler.

The other day we drove by an “adult dance club” and my boyfriend turned to my girls (ages 12 and 16) and told them that while he was in college he used to work there as a dancer. They replied with an uncomfortable and confused laugh and I quickly changed the subject.

I do not judge my guy for this past part-time job but I don’t think it was appropriate for him to share this information with my daughters without checking with me first. I told him later that I felt it was inappropriate and confusing information to share with them. I feel he needs to respect my wishes not to bring this up again. He thinks I am overreacting.

What do you think? -- Unnecessary Information

DEAR UNNECESSARY: For the sake of clarity, I’m going to assume that your guy was a male stripper.

Now that I’ve made this assumption, let’s conjure up a mental image and just go with it.

He is not ashamed of his past, and that might well be a good thing, but it is your right to expect family members to run important, confusing or fascinating personal factoids past you before disclosing them to the kids.

Now that he has told them, if they inquire you should be honest about it — including the fact that even though he did this before you met, it still makes you uncomfortable.

DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the letter from “Bah Humbug,” the wife who bore sole responsibility for the family Christmas decorating, cooking, etc.

She could try being very specific with her husband regarding the help she seeks. Saying “I need help with Christmas” is ineffective. “Would you please hang the lights on the mantel?” works much better.

My hubby of nearly 40 years isn’t unwilling; he just appreciates detailed information about what I want. I learned this approach from his mother, God bless her. -- Faithful Reader

DEAR FAITHFUL: This is excellent advice. Thank you!

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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