Dear Amy: I have two children, ages 5 and 10. I have been a single mother for the past four years after a decade of abuse from their father and a resulting restraining order. The court awarded me sole custody of the children.
Unfortunately, both children have their father’s last name.
I’m ready to move forward with changing their last names to my surname because I am their mother and sole caregiver.
The 5-year-old was too young to remember his father and is as excited as a 5-year-old can be about the change, but the 10-year-old has mixed feelings.
I think it’s better to do this change sooner rather than later, though I am cautious of the identity conflict a name change can bring.
Dear Matriname: You state that you want to move forward with this name change because you are your sons’ mother and sole caregiver, but your decision here should be more about them and less about you.
I agree that your 10-year-old’s feelings should very much be taken into account as you make this decision. Discuss this with him privately, and maintain an attitude of patient listening. He has already lost a lot, and holding onto his name might be his way of trying to stem the tide of these losses to maintain his own sense of normalcy. Keep in mind that children of abusive parents often find ways to continue to love and long for them.
Your older son may worry that if he loses his father’s name, he will finally and forever lose his father.
Do not drag their father as you discuss this, but emphasize that you would like all three of you to share the same surname.
You might ask both boys if they would like to make their father’s surname into their middle names.
If your older son absolutely does not want to change his surname, do not pressure him, and hold off on the name change for the younger child.
Due to the circumstances here, these two boys having different surnames from one another would set them apart in both large and subtle ways.
Dear Amy: My mother and father are in their early 70s. I’m very close with both of them.
There have been changes to their health over time, with wearing hearing aids, walking more slowly, etc., but I’ve noticed that my mother is getting a little more forgetful lately.
The changes aren’t earth shattering, usually just repeating a recent question or forgetting an answer she’s just received.
What’s the “right” way to deal with this when it happens?
Do I say, “You just asked that” Or, “I just told you that?”
Or is the proper thing to do, to just ignore the fact that it’s repetitive and simply just answer the question again?
I don’t want to remind her that she’s getting older.
— Faithful Child
Dear Faithful: Your mother knows she’s getting older. She feels the passage of time in large and small ways — every day.
And — I have news for you: Getting older is not a bad or shameful topic that must be avoided. Getting older, quite simply, is the privilege of continuing to live in the world.
The way to respond to your mother’s forgetfulness is with the utmost patience, followed by a trip to the doctor.
Losing one’s memory is a deep and essential fear, and this fear can prevent people from seeking an early diagnosis or treatment for cognitive changes that might be treatable. Your mother’s forgetfulness might be the result of a change of medication, a need for medication, or another treatable or benign cause.
Dear Amy: This is in response to “Disgruntled Guest” who was complaining about destination weddings.
My husband and I married in Hawaii many years ago with only our children in attendance.
Our families were upset they weren’t invited, but we didn’t want to burden everyone by inviting them to a wedding across the Pacific.
So, over several months after our ceremony, we threw smaller wedding parties across the country.
We called it our “Wedding Tour” and the tagline was “Bringing the party to you!” It was easier for us and the kids to travel to several locations than it was to try and gather a couple hundred people all in one place.
We showed the video of our ceremony, wore our wedding attire, had great food and music, and specified no gifts. The complaints about missing our wedding stopped.
— Wedding Tour Guide
Dear Tour Guide: This is great.
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