We get lots of mail and e-mail here at the family page, much of it lately on romantic dilemmas and some of it probably relevant to you or your loved ones. For example:
DEAR AMY: My teenage daughter broke up with her boyfriend, and she's taking it hard--like Fatal Attraction hard. She calls him, cries, sees him in school, cries, writes him, cries and just can't seem to get over it. Two of her girlfriends have told me she should see a therapist. I just wonder: What happened to working things out for yourself? Are we really helping kids by carting them off to one specialist after another? --A Worried Mom
DEAR WORRIED: I share your concern that our culture seems to value therapy over self-reliance. (When was the last time you heard anyone tell a kid to buck up?) In general, I think our children need less medication and talk therapy and more work, responsibility and parental attention. However, your reference to the movie Fatal Attraction gives me pause. What if the Glenn Close character had a few sessions with a good counselor? Might the family bunny have been spared? I gather that your daughter is self-medicating with Aimee Mann CDs and scented candles. And she's fortunate to have close girlfriends, the first line of defense against heartbreak. But if she is losing sleep, losing weight or losing faith in herself, she should talk to somebody other than her friends--whether it's a counselor or a favorite older relative--who can listen sympathetically and help her move forward.
DEAR AMY: I'm in the U.S. Navy, currently on deployment. My girlfriend back home in Georgia and I are thinking about marriage, and I'm really uncertain. I love her with all my heart, but she's 21 and has a son. I'm only 19 and don't know if I'm ready to be a parent. My parents say I'm too young. I've always followed my heart in these situations, but now I'm very confused. --Nervous in the Service
DEAR NERVOUS: Man overboard! Where I come from, we have a saying about matters of the heart: "If you've gotta ask..." Your very confusion is your answer. So, date your girlfriend. Be a friend to her son. But do not get married just yet. When the people who love and know you best say it's a bad idea, you should listen. Besides, you're too young.
DEAR AMY: I find myself in the role of "the other woman." The man I love is separated but not divorced. He says he's felt unfulfilled for years and has had affairs to fill in the empty spots. We have "loved" each other for a year. I'd like a list of books for advice on my issues: how to be supportive, how to not give up on myself while waiting for others to act or not, how to deal with his kids (all grown and married) if this were to become a reality, etc. --Left Hanging
DEAR LEFT: Getting involved with a married man who has had "affairs to fill in the empty spots" is just plain dumb. Thinking he will be faithful to you is dumber. Therefore, I have the dumbest book to recommend: How to Survive Your Boyfriend's Divorce, by Robyn Todd and Lesley Dormen. With nuggets of wisdom such as "Get a massage" and "Be more real than honest," this book is great bathtub reading for "other women" and a hoot for the rest of us.