DEAR AMY: I’m the only child of a man who comes from a “high-touch” family. He never moved out of his parents’ home (my mom simply moved in). My grandmother used to talk to her siblings twice a day on the phone.
I moved out of the house – from Queens to Brooklyn – when I was 23. I am now 27. My dad still insists that I have to text or call him every day when I get home.
If he does not hear from me by 8 p.m., he will text me to ask if I am home. If I don’t answer within an hour or so (I tried to train him not to expect an immediate response), he will send more texts asking if I am “alive.”
When I try to talk to him about this behavior, he asks me to understand that I am his only daughter, but the constant barrage from him is giving me anxiety. He freaks out when I don’t answer.
He truly insists on daily “proof of life.” This does not make me feel like an adult, even though I have always been highly responsible.
I wish my parents had more children to relieve the pressure.
What do other only children do? Please help me come to some sort of compromise!
DEAR DAUGHTER: Could you train yourself to react differently? Maybe shooting your father a quick smiley face emoticon in response to a text or call would satisfy him.
You have correctly identified your father as someone who comes from a culture of intensive contact.
His compulsive checking in is his attempt to deal with his own anxiety. I would put this outside the “normal” range of parent behavior, enhanced by the ubiquity of cellphones.
Understand that his anxiety levels probably rise as the evening goes on.
One common treatment for anxiety-fueled compulsions is to gradually expose the person to the source of his anxiety. If you want to try, you could say: “Dad, I am not going to check in tomorrow. See if you can go all night without texting or calling. I’ll call you first thing in the morning. I know this is hard for you but I’m telling you in advance. You can handle it.”
DEAR AMY: I was a June bride and am blissfully married to my sweetie. We found out that, despite all my efforts to provide overnight accommodations and transportation options, one of my cousins got into legal trouble on their drive home from our wedding.
My other cousin asked me to comb through my photos and video footage for anything that could help show my cousin’s state during the wedding. Frankly, I was resentful to have to look at these photos and video with anything other than beautiful thoughts, but I wanted to help and I also did not want strangers to rifle through them.
After letting my other cousin know I had no promising evidence for them, they asked for the videographer’s contact information.
Our videographer and photographer are our friends. I do not want to air my family’s dirty laundry to these friends.
I feel selfish wanting to keep those items sacred when my cousin could be facing legal charges in court. How should I respond?
DEAR NEWLYWED: I’m not sure how photos from your wedding would prove someone’s innocence.
All the same, I can’t quite wrap my head around your extreme sensitivity about this. You should provide the names of the people who photographed your wedding and let them handle it.
If you don’t provide access, I assure you, you’ll feel worse – your assumption that this episode will ruin the “sacred” nature of these items is decidedly out of focus.
DEAR AMY: You chided the subject of the letter signed “Elephant on the Couch” for not acting like a good family member by sleeping on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner. But in many families napping is exactly how to fit in to the family.
DEAR NAPSTER: Napping seems to be a major sport on Thanksgiving Day, but not in that particular family. I hoped they could find a spare bed for the poor guy.
Write Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.