Ask Amy 12/5
Sam I Am

Nashville, TN

#1 Dec 5, 2012
DEAR AMY: I am a 56-year-old empty nester. My next-door neighbor is a stay-at-home mom with an 11- and 16-year-old.

We have become good friends. She will ask for my help in walking her dogs or transporting her children. I never say "no" because I am happy to help.

Recently, she texted me to ask if I could walk the dogs at noon, then take her 16-year-old to basketball practice and then take her home after. She didn't say why she needed my help, and I didn't ask.

I have learned that she went to a 15-hour movie marathon. I am upset that she chose sitting in a movie theater over leaving her younger child alone, after dark, for three hours.

Am I being overly sensitive and unreasonable for feeling duped and used?


DEAR PERPLEXED: Like most pitch-hitting caregivers, you assume that if you are being asked to fill in, the reason must be a "good" one. But I assume that if your neighbor had said, "I know it sounds silly, but I want to see 'Twilight 1-7' at the mall. Can you fill in while I do that?" you might have agreed.

It's a question of her taking advantage of your willingness to help, while not trusting you with her truth. You are probably also wondering if you have a friendship with someone who is treating you like "the nice doormat next door."

Your neighbor likely knows she's pushed it; that's why she didn't tell you the truth about where she was going. You should say to her, "I felt a little dumb carting the kids around while you were at a movie marathon, because I assumed it was more urgent. I wish you had told me what your plans were." It's also OK for you to say "no."


DEAR AMY: My husband and I decided to start a family. I'm excited but nervous at the same time. I've been thinking about how I would like to raise my children; although I love my parents, I don't want to raise my children the way they raised me.

My parents put their needs before mine, and I resent them. You hear that no matter how much you try not to, you end up like your parents. I'm worried about this. I want to be the best mom I can be, and I don't want my children to have a childhood like mine.

I'm scared that when they reach my age, my kids will have the same terrible relationship that I have with my folks.

Wannabe Mommy

DEAR WANNABE: You are right to realize that how your parents raised you will influence your own choices. You are wrong to think that you are somehow destined to repeat their mistakes.

Being a thoughtful parent means that you will sometimes make choices based on your negative experiences and that you will deliberately establish a different way of being in a family.

Don't overthink this. Parenthood unfolds one day at a time. Each and every day you have the opportunity to make choices and then self-correct, if necessary. Your children will help to show you the way.
Sam I Am

Nashville, TN

#2 Dec 5, 2012
1. Your neighbor doesn't respect your time. Start saying no once in awhile.

2. Good grief, self-sabotage much? You recognize what your parents did, you are painfully aware of the ramifications, so know what? Never mind. Just don't have kids. It wouldn't be fair to them.

“Where is Tonka?”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#3 Dec 5, 2012
1 take up golf.

2 Dont make babies until you grow the F* up. What are you 12?

Since: Mar 09

Miami, FL

#4 Dec 5, 2012
L1: Amy, it's PINCH hitting, not pitch hitting, you dolt.

Anyway, I fail to see why the reason you're being asked to help out matters - either it's convenient for you or it's not. Start saying no if it bothers you so much.

L2: Amy's answer is actually pretty good. You're aware of how you want to be different, now stop stressing or it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Since: Aug 08

Location hidden

#5 Dec 5, 2012
LW1: You are a doormat. Tell her that you no longer have the time to assume her responsibilities, and if she asks again, tell her no, you are busy.

LW2: I think you should skip the kids and fix yourself, first.


“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#6 Dec 5, 2012
L1: I'll take it at face value and assume that the neighbor enjoys helping out b/c he/she can. Have a talk with your neighbor, though. She is taking advantage.

L2: You're over-thinking this. You can have the best laid plans for how you're going to do things and then reality slaps you in the face and all plans go out the window. First step I would think is make sure you and your hubby are on the same page about how to raise your child. Go from there.

Marina, CA

#7 Dec 5, 2012
LW1: "Ann Landers" said "Nobody can take advantage of you without your permission." If you can't say "no", take up a new hobby or two so that you won't be at her disposal so often.

LW2: I agree with Sublime. You need to work on yourself and reconcile your hostile relationship with your parents before having children. You sound like someone who would spoil or smother them.

Since: Jan 10

Location hidden

#8 Dec 5, 2012
L1: Either do these favors for her, or don't, but don't expect her to read your mind. You are free to say "no" to any of her requests. And by the way, the 11 yo is PERFECTLY FINE being home alone for three hours at night.

L2: Don't overcorrect and swing too far to the other side, where your children's needs/wants/desires come before everything else in your life. There can and should be a healthy balance.

Since: Jan 10

Location hidden

#9 Dec 5, 2012
Sam I Am wrote:
1. Your neighbor doesn't respect your time. Start saying no once in awhile.
I agree. I think this is the best approach. Let the neighbor learn that you say "yes" only occasionally, and she'll be more careful about asking for that favor -- like when she NEEDS it rather than just wants out of parenting.
Community Disorganizer

Florham Park, NJ

#10 Dec 5, 2012
LW 1: This leech might have been into a 15-hour marathon, but I doubt it was at the movies.

LW 2: It's to late!

Since: Dec 07

DuPage County

#11 Dec 5, 2012
1 Doormat! Foot-wiing time?

2 You're right to be concerned. You've aparently inherited your parents' stupidity already.

“The two baby belly, please!”

Since: Sep 09

Evanston IL

#12 Dec 5, 2012
LW1: If you're feeling abused, you can always tell your neighbor that you can only help in a pinch.

And Red is right; an 11 year old is perfectly fine on their own for a couple of hours.

LW2: Yes, you're doomed to behave just like your mother. It's in the mitochondria, so you have no control over it. <eye roll>

Since you're conscious of this, you will take steps to do things differently. Until you're really really pissed off, then sh!t your mom said to you will just fly out of your mouth. And that's what apologies are for.

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