Dear Amy:

I am a Taiwanese working woman.

I am in my early thirties, work in the government and have a boyfriend of four years who works in a small law firm.

Last year, he lost a large amount of money in the stock market. Weeks ago, he asked me to get a loan from the bank to help him through this financial crisis. Because I am an employee of the government, I get better conditions on loans. He brought up the topic several times and tried to persuade me to do it.

Amy, I love him and would never doubt his love for me. However, a man to whom I am not married has asked me to help him, and I can't help but wonder about his backbone and character. I am confused. He is hardworking and honest, except for this.

What is your input?

Kathy

Your boyfriend is attempting to spread his debt -- and all of the risks associated with it -- to you. He may feel that because you love him, you are obligated to help him out, but it doesn't work that way. Because he loves you, he is obligated not to draw you in, but to try and protect you from his mistakes. That's what loving partners do.

Because your boyfriend is putting so much pressure on you, I suspect that there might be more to his debt than meets the eye. He could have a gambling or other problem that he hasn't disclosed to you. I hope you'll be very cautious.

Dear Amy:

I have a dear grandmother who is 95 years old. Her mind is very sharp, but her hearing is poor.

I have noticed some very offensive behavior toward her when we are in public together or when she has been in the hospital. People, often nurses, will speak to her as if she is a baby. Their voices go up to a high pitch and they call her "sweetie" or "honey" and smile kind of silly at her.

It is very demeaning. My grandmother was married to a cowboy and lived on a ranch. She is a very tough woman. She has survived many hardships in her life. She is very gracious when people treat her this way, but I want to tell them, "Speak to her like a person, not like a baby!"

I know people mean well, and I'm sure they are unaware of their offensive behavior.

Betty in Golden, Colo.

I completely echo your concern. Ask your grandmother if this bothers her as much as it bothers the two of us.

If there is a particular person you and your grandmother see regularly who behaves in this way (such as a nurse or a doctor), it would be a good idea for you to take that person aside and say, "My grandmother is a person of sound mind, strength and dignity. Please call her by name."

Otherwise, you should acknowledge this behavior to your grandmother by saying, "Golly, Maw-Maw, what do you suppose is wrong with that nice nurse? She seems to think she is calling her cat!" Use these incidents as ways to appreciate your grandmother, and you can share a chuckle at their expense.

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