Dear Amy:

I stay at home with my three young children.

My husband works very different hours and is not home often -- so when scheduling home repair or furniture delivery, I am usually the only adult home.

I cannot tell you how nervous this makes me. I try and add little remarks when repairmen are in my home, such as, "My husband should be back any minute."

Recently, two young salespeople came to my home while I was alone. They were selling magazine subscriptions.

At first I declined to purchase any, but when the female salesperson started looking over my shoulder into the house, I began to feel intimidated. She merely asked the ages of my children -- she could see my youngest son standing inside the glass door.

I then agreed to a single magazine and was sick to my stomach when they left.

I don't know why, in this day and age, people are still going door to door in the middle of the day. It seems very dangerous to me.

Sometimes I just don't answer the door, but in the summer the screen door is open.

How do I build up my backbone and not be fearful of any stranger who comes to my door?

Chicken Mom

I can't help but notice that when you felt intimidated by a solicitor, you responded to your nervousness by OPENING THE DOOR and buying a subscription. HELLO -- not a good move. It's important to be cautious, but you should let your smarts, not your fear, guide you.

Don't open the door to anyone you aren't expecting or don't wish to speak to.

When delivery people come to your home, you can greet them, show them where to place the object and carry your phone with you. You can even place a call (perhaps to your husband) as a way of distracting yourself a little from your nervousness.

For repair visits, make sure that the repairperson is highly recommended, either by somebody you know who has hired him or her, or through the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) or a consumer database, such as Angie's List (www.angieslist.com). Angie's list is a commercial site that charges an annual fee to subscribers in exchange for offering listings and very detailed consumer ratings and recommendations.

One way to build up a backbone is to act like you have a backbone. If you act it, it will come. That means that you'll have to project an air of confidence and be in charge at home. If your fears continue to overwhelm you, seeing a therapist will help.

A book you might find helpful is "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers (1988, Ballantine Books). Jeffers explores the psychological underpinnings of fear and suggests ways to tame it.

Dear Amy:

What is the proper etiquette for setting your wedding date?

I have a cousin who is very close to me, and she decided to choose for her wedding date the same day as my wedding anniversary.

I am happy that she has finally found someone, but I am a little annoyed that she picked the same day that I was married.

Am I wrong in feeling that she has breached some form of wedding date etiquette?

Ghost Bride

Yes, you are wrong. I hate to break it to you, but your wedding anniversary isn't that big a deal to others -- nor should it be (unless it is a milestone anniversary, such as 25 or 50 years, which I don't think this is).

Once you get married, the whole idea is to enjoy your day in the limelight and then graciously step aside and enjoy your marriage.

You and your ghost groom could take this as an opportunity to quietly and privately renew your own vows to each other on your cousin's dime, so to speak.

I'm afraid that you're just going to have to get over this.

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

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