Ask Amy: Man witnesses assault, wonders what to do

Dear Amy: I am a 30-year-old gay man who doesn’t particularly like children.

While I was shopping at the grocery store, I saw a man smack his little baby across the face.

The child began crying and sucking its thumb.

I was shocked and disgusted.

Is there anything a person can do in these circumstances?

I feel guilty for not advocating for an infant who appeared to be less than 2 years old.

— Not a Parent

Dear Not a Parent: Thank you for recognizing that even though you “don’t like them,” young children are helpless human beings who should not be assaulted, by a parent or by anyone else.

Yes, you should have attempted to advocate for this child. Ways to do this would be to say, “Whoa whoa — wait a minute. Is everything OK here?” (You don’t want to risk an escalation by responding too aggressively.)

And then you should have also contacted store security and/or called 911. This incident might have been caught on the store’s security cameras.

Slapping a baby across the face is assault and abuse. Yes, it is shocking and disgusting, and this person (who might not have been the baby’s parent — or even related to the baby) should be stopped, and this baby protected.

Dear Amy: This week is the one-year anniversary of my mom’s death.

She died suddenly of lung cancer, two weeks after her diagnosis.

I’m still very much grieving.

My parents were married for over 40 years.

My dad started dating a woman less than two months after my mom’s death.

He just announced that they’re engaged, and getting married next month.

It seems SO sudden.

The last time I was with him, I was caring for my sick mom, and the next time I go back, a new woman will be living in her place.

I’m glad that my dad is happy — he deserves it — but I’m not ready to be involved in that part of his life.

I couldn’t even bring myself to tell him congratulations.

Should I feel guilty for not wanting to attend the wedding or spend time with the two of them together?

— Still Sad

Dear Sad: My condolences on your mother’s death. This is a loss you will be processing in many different ways for a long time. There is no one way to grieve her loss, but one thing you may be discovering now is how closely sadness and anger seem to reside.

My point is that “sad” can sometimes feel like “mad,” and I think it could help you to realize this.

There is evidence that men tend to partner-up quickly after a loss. Why is this?

Sometimes, experiencing a sudden and tragic loss leaves a person grasping for life. People who have been happily partnered for decades crave the sort of comfort and stability they’ve experienced.

Men often benefit from their wives being skilled domestically, in addition to being the emotional caretakers of the family. They want more of that.

And maybe people who remarry quickly are trying their hardest to avoid the kind of pain you are experiencing, now.

You should communicate honestly with your father. You’ve never met the woman he is marrying, so be honest about your own feelings without judging him — or her. Simply express your ongoing sadness and tell him that you know he deserves to be happy, but that this is hard on you.

It’s important to recognize that this is not about your mother, or you, but about him — and he believes that he is moving forward.

If you were getting married, you would want your father to accept your choice. Accepting his choice (even if you’re not ready to witness it) will be an important part of your relationship with him.

If you decide not to attend the wedding, you should plan a trip to see your father and to meet her as soon as you are able. If you have a partner, sibling or close friend who could do this with you it might help for you to offload your feelings and talk this experience through.

Dear Amy: “Early Retirement” was cohabiting with parents and feeling lonely and isolated.

Having recently moved to a new city, I have been amazed at how many people I’ve met by joining a rock-climbing gym and meetup groups.

I’ve met so many friendly people around my age (30s). Plus, it’s a healthy activity!

I would offer this advice to anyone feeling isolated, stuck, or bored.

— Climbing

Dear Climbing: Great recommendation.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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