Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

Ask Amy: Millennial wonders what makes a “man”

Dear Amy: I’m a millennial “man,” about to turn 40. I see so many friends my age struggle to pay for and take care of their domestic responsibilities.

I’ve known since I was 30 that I want as little responsibly as possible. My plan is to never get married, have children, purchase a home, or have pets.

I figure I have enough responsibilities: I have to work, pay rent, bills, etc. I do this well. My credit score is 800.

I’m often called a “man-child.” People call me selfish because of my choices.

I’m told to “settle down,” which to me feels like a prison cell of additional responsibilities.

What do you think?

— Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: When, at the age of 40, you employ scare-quotes to describe yourself as a “man,” I’d say that your primary problem is the way you see yourself.

You don’t mention having parents, but if you do, at some point you may be forced to face the prospect of accepting or rejecting responsibility for their care and welfare.

If you plan to continue to move through the world as if coated in Teflon, then it’s best if you are completely honest with your folks, now. Perhaps you have already done so, and these are the people deriding you as a selfish “man-child.”

You seem to be seeking affirmation, but here’s a tip: You are free to live any way you want!

To me, living a life completely free of attachment, complication or contribution would lack meaning — but you’re built differently.

Whether your attitude is fear-based or enlightened depends on whatever meaning you attach to your own existence and the choices you’re making.

I do think it might be helpful for you to contemplate your own headstone. Yours might read: “Achievement unlocked: Credit score of 800!”

Dear Amy: My adult eldest son has not spoken to me in years. I’ve tried multiple times to reach him, but no response.

In fact, last time I saw him, he was rather abusive, mocking my occupation as a Special Education teacher, and constantly trying to influence my other children to leave the house because I was a horrible person.

Unfortunately, I believe he was brainwashed by my ex into creating a horrible image of me after I spent 18 years busting my hide to attend all of his school activities, show up for him in life, and create a great life for him while his father resided in another state.

Recently, my extended family, who I am close to, decided to start a family reunion and you got it, top of their list of invitee’s was my son.

I expressed to my family that I felt uncomfortable with this, and was surprised that some of them did not care.

We are extremely loyal to all of our extended family and attend almost all events and vacations with them.

My husband and I are thinking of not attending the reunion at all because of this.

Do you think I am wrong to feel this way?

— Upset Mom

Dear Upset: Family reunions are usually intended to be fun and peaceful meetings of the clan.

But sometimes, these events turn out to be cliquish at the core, surrounded by a series of awkward encounters with family members you’ve never met, others you barely know, and — yes — some you plain don’t like.

You aren’t wrong to feel the way you feel. You might, however, be wrong to let this estranged family member control your presence, with your family, at your family reunion.

Issuing this invitation to your son does not mean that he will attend. In fact, his attitude toward you and others makes it unlikely.

And if he does attend this reunion, you will have lots of support — and many witnesses — if he misbehaves.

Dear Amy: Your answer to “Grief and Joy” is right on the money. (Just hours after her engagement, she learned of her grandmother’s passing.)

My husband’s mother passed after a long illness. Sadly, it was two weeks before our wedding. As we had already pre-paid for our small, private ceremony, we went ahead.

Everyone understood why we went ahead with the ceremony so soon after her funeral.

I hope Grief and Joy knows that it’s OK to be happy even while mourning.

Funerals are a good time to connect with long-distance family, to share grief, and to ease hearts. A piece of good news is not amiss during this time.

— Understanding

Dear Understanding: She signed her question “Grief and Joy” for a reason.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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