Ask Amy: Sometimes the best offense is self-defense

June 13, 2012

Dear Amy: I’m a 15-year-old Asian American. I live in a safe neighborhood where gangs are virtually nonexistent and kidnapping and crime are extremely rare. However, my mom feels the need to forbid me from walking outside at all times of the day.

I understand why she would be so uptight about this — last year a girl in a nearby district was kidnapped — but this rule has been in place even before this happened. My mother won’t let me out of the house even with my phone and a promise to return after an hour or two.

I’ve made several attempts to change her mind about this rule over the last few years, but nothing works. If I try to use my friends as examples, she counters with a story about one of her friends’ daughters almost being kidnapped.

My mother always complains that I don’t socialize and exercise enough, and yet she won’t let me out! When I point out this contradiction, she gets annoyed and changes the subject. How do I get her to change her mind about this?

-- Anxious

Dear Anxious: Rather than ask your protective mom to completely dismiss a rule and reverse herself, you should ask her if she would be willing to allow you to “practice” going out in the neighborhood for a limited time by yourself. For example, maybe there is a brief local errand you could do for her. Take your phone with you, always answer her calls and call her to check in.

If you have small successes, you should be able to build upon them until you have slightly more freedom. You may never have as much freedom as you want or as much as other kids.

When my daughter was your age and we lived in the city, she took a self-defense class. The focus was on crime avoidance. Among the most helpful defensive tips were to be very aware of your surroundings, to follow your instincts, and to always scream, shout, raise a ruckus and — most important — to run from trouble. Maybe you could find a local class and bring your mother with you.

Dear Amy: My husband had surgery a few months ago, and I was his perfect caregiver. Ice every 20 minutes, on and off, timed pills to perfection, made foods he could tolerate, drove him to appointments, made sure he was comfortable at all times, checked him all night long, brought him back to happiness in no time.

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, I needed surgery. What did I get? Cooked my own meal the evening I got home from the hospital. Washed and cleaned as if I didn’t have several stitches. My husband was nowhere to be found.

My kids are in their 40s and always think of themselves first, so they’re no help.

I did a great job with my family, don’t ya think? Here’s hoping that I never need any of them ever. How do I get over this bitterness that is eating me up?

-- Still in Stitches

Dear Still: No one can let us down quite like our own families. The most you can do is see to your own needs with the energy and attentiveness you see to theirs.

I suggest you give yourself the break you wish they would give you and lavish the attention on yourself that you deserve to receive.

This process is not always pretty as everyone adjusts to a less-perfect reality. You have to adjust, too, because letting go can be surprisingly hard work.

Dear Amy: I’m responding to “Flush With Funds,” the lottery winner who was being hit up for loans.

The best thing to do with bothersome people who ask for money is to lend them an amount you can afford to lose but you know they can never pay back. You tell them it’s a loan and you expect to be repaid. When they ask for more help, you state (over and over) that the bank is closed until this amount is paid back with interest.

-- Been There

Dear Been There: Or you could save yourself a bundle and just say “no.”

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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