Ask Amy: Indictment of friend’s personality, parenting style isn’t likely to inspire change

Dear Amy: My friend and co-worker has a teenage son (age 15) who has unfortunately been in trouble for most of his life. This has gotten worse the older he gets. (I am not talking about small incidents either. There has been racism, violence, and other problems that are serious.)

He has been disciplined several times already at school, and now is currently attending the “alternative” school and has been kicked off both band and athletics, in which he excelled.

She seems to have rose-colored glasses on and does not seem to understand the severity of his actions, nor the recourse for them. She is also extremely hard-headed and must always be right (*sigh*).

She has asked my opinion several times and I have generally deferred, knowing it will upset her. Should I tell her what I think, or simply let it go? I confess it is hard to watch because no good can come from the path he is currently traveling down.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

— A Friend

Dear A: If you have personal or professional experience dealing with an extremely challenging teenager, then you should weigh in (when invited) supportively and share every ounce of expertise and commiseration you can.

In short, can you actually help her? If so, you should.

Merely stating your opinion about how badly her son is messing up (or highlighting the severity of his offenses so she’ll pay closer attention) might make you feel righteous — and right — but wouldn’t offer a pathway toward change.

The way you present your friend’s personality, I could imagine that there are ways her own temperament might have contributed to her son’s behavior. Again, offering an indictment of her personality or parenting style isn’t likely to inspire change.

If you lack expertise and experience, you might gain traction by asking questions: Has she been offered professional help? Has he? Has she been following professional recommendations?

Listen to her answers with compassion, and if she asks you what she should do, say, “Every child is different. I can’t really say what YOU should do, but I can tell you what I would try to do.” If she responds defensively, you’ll know that she isn’t ready or able to listen.

There is no one answer in how to parent a troubled child. It is a very long and lonely road. Be extremely judicious in doling out advice, while offering support in abundance.

Dear Amy: My mother passed away earlier this year.

Shortly afterward, my father started seeing someone. She has basically moved in with him.

Before I knew about his new romantic partner, my wife and I were planning to have Christmas dinner at his home since they are part of our small quarantine bubble of four.

We were also planning on doing a Zoom dinner with my mom’s side of the family.

They have no clue about this relationship, and I imagine there’s going to be a lot of awkwardness if we do this.

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Ask Amy: Adoption complicates clan’s wedding plans

Dear Amy: My biological great-aunt and uncle adopted me when I was 2 years old. I am now 20, and I’m planning my wedding. My adoptive parents are my world, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them.

I have a very close relationship with my mom, and plan on including her in my wedding, just as anyone normally would.

Because it was an open adoption and my adoptive parents are my great-aunt and uncle, I do know my biological mom.

She and I have more of a friendly bond than a mother/daughter bond. I am getting married next year, and I want to include her somehow, but my adoptive mom gets jealous and hurt about certain things when it comes to including her.

How can I incorporate my biological mom, but not hurt my adoptive mom’s feelings?

Also, should I give my biological mom a corsage to wear?

I’m not sure what to do.

— Unsure Bride

Dear Unsure: This is tricky, because all of your parents are also related to one another (I take it that one of your biological parents would be your parents’ niece or nephew). There is no doubt a lot of challenging history there, before and after your birth and adoption.

In my opinion, you should invite your biological mother to the wedding, and give her a seat in the front row, along with other family members. Yes, it would be nice for you to give her a corsage.

Weddings are highly charged events; feelings and insecurities are heightened in anticipation. Communicate with your parents honestly and as soon as possible, letting them know what your plans are, giving them time to adjust.

Consider having both of your (adoptive) parents — not just your dad — walk you down the aisle to formally present you to your prospective spouse. They deserve that honor.

Understand that your mom might feel threatened, jealous, and upset, no matter what plan you present. Affirm her feelings, saying: “I know this is hard, but there is no question in my mind about who my ‘real’ parents are — you two! I hope you can keep that in mind and help me by being friendly to my biological mom during the events. It’s hard on me, too, but I’m trying to do the right thing.”

Dear Amy: “Carrie” and I met at work a few years ago.

She’s well-known, but for some reason, has no “real” friends. As I got to know her better, I realized that she is needy and selfish, the kind of person who has no trouble asking for things, but who doesn’t reciprocate.

When we hung out, it was always at the location she wanted. I’d have to take pictures of her for her Instagram (dozens at a time, in different locations!) and she would always keep me waiting.

Over the last two years, I’ve been trying to ice her out, but she has not taken the hint, confronting me when I haven’t included her in

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Ask Amy: Adopted bride mulls biological mom’s place at wedding

Dear Amy: My biological great-aunt and uncle adopted me when I was 2 years old. I am now 20, and I’m planning my wedding. My adoptive parents are my world, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them.

I have a very close relationship with my mom, and plan on including her in my wedding, just as anyone normally would.

Because it was an open adoption and my adoptive parents are my great-aunt and uncle, I do know my biological mom.

She and I have more of a friendly bond than a mother/daughter bond. I am getting married next year, and I want to include her somehow, but my adoptive mom gets jealous and hurt about certain things when it comes to including her.

How can I incorporate my biological mom, but not hurt my adoptive mom’s feelings?

Also, should I give my biological mom a corsage to wear?

I’m not sure what to do.

— Unsure Bride

Dear Unsure: This is tricky, because all of your parents are also related to one another (I take it that one of your biological parents would be your parents’ niece or nephew). There is no doubt a lot of challenging history there, before and after your birth and adoption.

In my opinion, you should invite your biological mother to the wedding, and give her a seat in the front row, along with other family members. Yes, it would be nice for you to give her a corsage.

Weddings are highly charged events; feelings and insecurities are heightened in anticipation. Communicate with your parents honestly and as soon as possible, letting them know what your plans are, giving them time to adjust.

Consider having both of your (adoptive) parents — not just your dad — walk you down the aisle to formally present you to your prospective spouse. They deserve that honor.

Understand that your mom might feel threatened, jealous, and upset, no matter what plan you present. Affirm her feelings, saying: “I know this is hard, but there is no question in my mind about who my ‘real’ parents are — you two! I hope you can keep that in mind and help me by being friendly to my biological mom during the events. It’s hard on me, too, but I’m trying to do the right thing.”

Dear Amy: “Carrie” and I met at work a few years ago.

She’s well-known, but for some reason, has no “real” friends. As I got to know her better, I realized that she is needy and selfish, the kind of person who has no trouble asking for things, but who doesn’t reciprocate.

When we hung out, it was always at the location she wanted. I’d have to take pictures of her for her Instagram (dozens at a time, in different locations!) and she would always keep me waiting.

Over the last two years, I’ve been trying to ice her out, but she has not taken the hint, confronting me when I haven’t included her in

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Now streaming: Amy Adams in ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ a new ‘Black Beauty,’ holiday shows and more

Here’s what’s new on Video on Demand, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and other services.

Top streams of the week

Hillbilly Elegy” (2020, R), based on the bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance, stars Gabriel Basso as a Yale law student drawn back to Northern Kentucky to deal with his meth-addict mother (Amy Adams) and confront the dead-end life he escaped. Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto and Glenn Close co-star and Ron Howard directs. (Netflix)

Paul Bettany is “Uncle Frank” (2020, R) in Alan Ball’s road movie about a closeted gay literature professor in 1969 New York who reluctantly returns to his South Carolina home with his niece (Sophia Lillis) for a family funeral. (Amazon Prime)

Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman is Gretchen Carlson in “Bombshell“ (2019, R), based on the true story of a scandal at Fox News. Margot Robbie and John Lithgow co-star in the film that won an Oscar for makeup and hairstyling. (Amazon Video and Hulu)

Also based on a true story, contemporary war thriller “Mosul” (2019, not rated, with subtitles) follows an Iraqi SWAT team that breaks all the rules to drive ISIS out of their city. (Netflix)

Mackenzie Foy is the spirited teenage girl who bonds with a wild horse (voiced by Kate Winslet) in the new adaptation of “Black Beauty” (2020, TV-PG). (Disney+)

Kaley Cuoco is “The Flight Attendant” (TV-MA) in the eight-episode comic murder mystery. Three episodes are available; new episodes arrive each Thursday. (HBO Max)

Saved by the Bell: Season 1” (TV-14) updates the 1990s high school sitcom with original stars Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as adults with their own kids. Three episodes are available; new episodes each Tuesday. (Peacock)

Holiday trimmings

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square” (2020, not rated) is a holiday musical with Christine Baranski as a Scrooge-like cynic and Parton (who also produced and wrote 14 original songs) as an angel named Angel. (Netflix)

The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two” (2020, TV-PG), a sequel to the 2018 adventure directed by Chris Columbus, features Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus joining a pair of kids to (what else?) save Christmas. (Netflix)

The romantic comedy “Happiest Season” (2020, PG-13) stars Kristen Stewart as a woman at her girlfriend’s (Mackenzie Davis) family Christmas dinner who discovers she hasn’t come out to her parents. (Hulu)

Pay-Per-View / Video on Demand

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner play grandparents who, after the death of their son, go on a mission to rescue their grandson from a criminal family in “Let Him Go” (2020, R).

Stardust” (2020, not rated) stars Johnny Flynn as young David Bowie at the beginning of his career.

Netflix

True stories: “Shawn Mendes: In Wonder” (2020, not rated) profiles the top-selling singer-songwriter on his world tour and “Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” (2020) goes behind

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