Dear Amy: My youngest son “Thomas” dated “Allyssa” sporadically during high school.
It was a volatile relationship (he’s non-confrontational, she loves drama).
Allyssa became pregnant at the end of his senior year (her junior year).
He took a paternity test to confirm that he was the father. They managed to work out visitation (nothing legal).
Thomas has “Trent” three days a week (overnight). Trent is now 10 months old. Thomas loves him so much.
The problem is that every time Thomas starts dating someone, Allyssa starts using the baby as a pawn.
She doesn’t want her son to be around another girl, and makes up terrible lies about the girl as reasons to keep the baby away.
When Thomas tries to keep a good friendship between him and Allyssa for the baby’s sake, Allyssa thinks he wants to resume their romance.
When she doesn’t get what she wants, it’s total drama. I know a lot of this is immaturity, but she also has an unhealthy obsession with my son.
She has been in therapy, but says it is only to please her mother.
Thomas has also seen a therapist (because of her).
I try to stay out of their relationship, but our son lives with us, so it’s hard.
I’ve advised him to either continue on this course, knowing the pitfalls, or go through the courts for joint custody.
He’s afraid of how Allyssa will react. He’s afraid she won’t let him see Trent for months, during the time it would take to go before a judge.
What do you think?
– Concerned Grandmother
Dear Concerned: Your son should see a lawyer immediately in order to establish parental rights and responsibilities. Otherwise, “Allyssa” will continue to manipulate him, threatening access to their child. She could also choose to move, taking their son with her, and “Thomas” would then have to scramble to try to assert his legal rights.
If Thomas wants to date, he has four nights of privacy when he does not have his son with him. Until he is in a serious long-term relationship, it would be wisest for him to minimize his dates’ contact with his son.
He should lock down his social media and ask anyone he is dating not to post about their relationship on social media.
He should always use birth control, and he should verify that anyone he has sex with is also using birth control.
His lawyer will advise him about maintaining his current custody arrangement until the matter goes through the courts. My instinct is that he should avoid discussing this with Allyssa until he has a court date.
Dear Amy: Recently my wife and I took our elder parents and our 11-year-old daughter out for some pre-Christmas shopping at our mall.
We were going to have lunch together in the mall and maybe see an afternoon movie.
We were all looking forward to this outing, which is something we used to do before the pandemic struck.
Our daughter has been acting up and acting out recently, and, starting from when we arrived, she was grouchy and disrespectful.
We can put up with a little of that, but she was treating store employees rudely, too. Basically, she seemed to make it her mission to ruin our day – and she did.
We’re now wondering what we should have done differently.
– Exhausted Dad
Dear Dad: You parents should have taken her aside at the first sign of trouble, and asked her to recognize her poor behavior and … get it together.
If she didn’t adjust her attitude within a reasonable time frame, I think one parent should have very quietly and calmly taken her home so she could experience a very quiet day of media-free reflection, while the other parent carried on with the outing.
You should then explain to her that your goal is for her to show her best self and to treat others well. She doesn’t seem ready to do that, but when she is, you’ll try again.
Dear Amy: I didn’t like your tone with “Dog Tired.”
Her daughter wants to bring her four dogs to the wedding? Sounds like she hasn’t a brain in her head.
What is it with dogs these days?!
And I did not for one second think the mother was judging or undermining.
Why is it always the mother’s fault?
Dear Upset: It was the daughter’s wedding, and she had laid her 16 paw prints down as a non-negotiable.
I agreed with the mother (and you) that this was bananas.