Ask Amy: Am I a ‘manchild’ for living the way I want to live?


Dear Amy: I am a millennial “man”, about to turn 40. I see so many friends my age struggling to pay and take care of their household responsibilities. I’ve known since I was 30 that I want as little responsibility as possible. My plan is never to get married, have kids, buy a house, or have pets.

I think I have enough responsibilities: I have to work, pay rent, bills, etc. My credit score is 800.

I am often referred to as the “man child”. People call me selfish because of my choices. I was told to “calm down”, which to me feels like a prison cell with added responsibilities. What do you think?

Anonymous: When, at age 40, you use quotes to describe yourself as a “man”, I would say that your main problem is the way you see yourself.

You don’t mention having parents, but if you do, at some point you may be forced to face the prospect of accepting or rejecting responsibility for their care and well-being. If you plan on continuing to move through the world like you’re coated in Teflon, then it’s best to be completely honest with your parents right now. Perhaps you have already done this, and these are the people who mock you as a selfish “man child”.

You seem to be looking for affirmation, but here’s a tip: you are free to live however you want! To me, living a life completely free of attachments, complications or contributions would be meaningless – but you are built differently.

Whether your attitude is fear-based or enlightened depends on the meaning you attach to your own existence and the choices you are making.

I think it might be helpful for you to contemplate your own tombstone. Yours could be: “Achievement Unlocked: Credit Score 800!”

Dear Amy: My oldest adult son hasn’t spoken to me in years. I tried several times to reach him but no response.

In fact, the last time I saw him he was quite abusive, making fun of my occupation as a special education teacher and constantly trying to influence my other children to leave home because I was a horrible person.

Sadly, I believe he was brainwashed by my ex to create a horrible image of me after I spent 18 years breaking my skin to participate in all of his school activities, show up for him in life, and create a great life for him while his father lived in another state.

Recently my extended family who I am close to decided to throw a family gathering and you did it, at the top of the guest list was my son. I expressed to my family that I was uncomfortable with this and was surprised that some of them didn’t mind. We are extremely loyal to our entire family and attend nearly every event and vacation with them. My husband and I are considering not attending the meeting because of this.

Do you think I’m wrong to feel this way?

Upset: Family gatherings are usually intended to be fun, peaceful clan gatherings.

But sometimes these events turn out to be clichés at the core, surrounded by a series of awkward encounters with family members you’ve never met, others you barely know, and – yes – some you just don’t like.

You are not wrong to feel what you feel. You may, however, be wrong to let this distant family member control your presence, with your family, at your family gathering.

Extending this invitation to your child does not mean that he will attend. In fact, his attitude towards you and others makes this unlikely. And if he attends this meeting, you’ll have a lot of support – and a lot of witnesses – if he misbehaves.

Dear Amy: Your response to “Sadness and Joy” is right about the money. (A few hours after her engagement, she learned of her grandmother’s death.)

My husband’s mother passed away after a long illness. Unfortunately, our wedding was two weeks away. As we had already paid in advance for our small private ceremony, we moved on. Everyone understood why we proceeded with the ceremony right after the funeral.

I hope Grief and Joy know that it’s okay to be happy even when you’re grieving. Funerals are a good time to connect with long-distance family, share grief and lighten hearts. Good news abounds in this period.

Understanding: She signed her question “Grief and Joy” for a reason.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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