Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: My fa­ther and I have al­ways had a rocky re­la­tion­ship. He punched me, body slammed me and choked me when I was a teenager and liv­ing with my par­ents.

He’s been an al­co­holic my whole life. He lashes out at ev­ery­one around him. He un­der­stands he has an ad­dic­tion but will ar­gue with any­one who con­fronts him about it.

I moved out soon af­ter I turned 18 be­cause I couldn’t stand liv­ing in the same house as him.

I am now 22, with a baby. I live with my fi­ancé. I usu­ally spend time with my par­ents on Satur­days be­cause I don’t work and want to get out of the house.

Last Satur­day, my fa­ther and I got into an ar­gu­ment and he ended up throw­ing my daugh­ter’s stuff into the yard. He pro­ceeded to curse me out. He has told my mother to not have any con­tact with me and to not let me into their house.

My dad’s birth­day will be com­ing up in a month and I do not plan on join­ing my fam­ily for the party. They pres­sure me to make amends.

Is it wrong of me to dis­tance my­self from my fam­ily be­cause of some­thing like this? Is it un­der­stand­able that, un­til my dad gets help for his al­co­hol ad­dic­tion, I do not want to be around him? — The Black Sheep

Dear Black Sheep: You can give your daugh­ter a bet­ter child­hood than you were granted. Your in­stincts are great, and I urge you to mar­shal your strength and re­solve to stay away from your fam­ily, at least for now.

Rather than spend time with your volatile and vi­o­lent fa­ther, here are some things you can do on Satur­day morn­ings: Pack your cof­fee and meet a friend at the park to push your ba­bies in bucket swings; go to your lo­cal YWCA or com­mu­nity cen­ter for baby swim or gym classes; head to the pub­lic li­brary for Satur­day story time.

Satur­day morn­ings can be lonely for full-time par­ents. En­gag­ing in group ac­tiv­i­ties de­signed for par­ents and ba­bies are a great way to meet and make friends. This could change your life dra­mat­i­cally.

Here’s one more thing for you to do: At­tend Al-anon (or an­other ad­dic­tion sup­port group) meet­ings ( You need help to see where you fit in your fam­ily sys­tem.

Dear Amy: I have dis­abil­i­ties that cause me to have a tough time us­ing the stan­dard stalls in the women’s re­stroom.

I have to use the “hand­i­capped” stall due to its size and the height of the com­mode, along with the grab bars. I also take wa­ter pills, so when I gotta go, I gotta go.

Ev­ery so of­ten I have had to wait for a young per­son with ob­vi­ously no dif­fi­cul­ties to get done us­ing the stall. It re­ally peeves me off when I have to wait! Is it wrong for me to get so an­noyed with peo­ple’s in­con­sid­er­ate be­hav­ior? — Dis­abled in P-Ville

Dear Dis­abled: The stalls are there so that you, and any other per­son with spe­cial needs, can safely use a pub­lic toi­let. If all the other stalls are oc­cu­pied, any­one should use the larger stall in or­der to move the line along. That stall needn’t stand empty, wait­ing for a dis­abled per­son.

These stalls are also use­ful for par­ents with young chil­dren, older peo­ple who use grab bars, any­one with a suit­case or stroller or large peo­ple.

Yes, if there are other stalls avail­able and an ob­vi­ously able-bod­ied per­son is oc­cu­py­ing the hand­i­cap stall, you have ev­ery right to be an­noyed.

If all the stalls are oc­cu­pied, you should queue in front of the hand­i­cap stall door (be­cause that is the only stall you can safely use). Yes, you may have to wait, but some­times, that’s just how things work out. The kind­est thing is for any­one in a bath­room queue to let any­body who has a greater need go first.

Dear Amy: Brava for your com­pas­sion­ate re­sponse to the judgy per­son sign­ing her let­ter “Wor­ried,” who was up­set be­cause her friends took in a teenage boy with nowhere else to go. Long ago, I was that kid. I went to live with our neigh­bors, and with­out them, I would not have made it. — Grate­ful

Dear Grate­ful: “Wor­ried” was con­cerned about the pos­si­bil­ity for sex­ual mis­con­duct in the house­hold be­cause of the boy’s pres­ence. There is with­out ques­tion an el­e­vated risk, but this should not be an au­to­matic as­sump­tion.

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