DEAR AMY: I'm a mom of two adult children. Their dad and I have been divorced since my son was two.
My ex never remarried and I finally found my soulmate about a year after my divorce.
My son is now 19. He has started a pattern of not talking to his parents for months at a time when he's mad.
This time it was over me telling him that he needed to do one chore and pay rent. I had to give him an ultimatum to either play by the rules or to move out within 30 days (which he had been planning to do, anyway).
He decided to stop talking to me. He even turned away from me at a family event.
This is the second time he has stopped talking to me and his father. The first time he did this I almost had a nervous breakdown. This time I can't, because I'm in school getting a bachelor's degree and I'm taking tough classes.
Everyone says that I just need to move on. But how do I move past this and carry on?
My heart really hurts. I feel like I need to keep my walls up.
His father is hurt, too, and his stepdad would like to throttle him -- not really, but you know what I mean.
What's your advice? -- Devastated Mom
DEAR MOM: Your son is having a tantrum, grabbing his blankie and disappearing into the closet.
The reason he is behaving this way for the second time is because when he did it before, it worked. You almost had a nervous breakdown.
Your son is a teenager. His judgment is sometimes poor. Many teenagers basically behave as if there is no tomorrow -- because they are not future-focused. They are all about getting what they want/need right now.
The message from all of the parents in his life should be, "I want the very best for you. But it's time to grow up, son. You can do it, and we're in your corner."
And then you should stay calm, and let him find his way back into the fold. Keep in touch with him by sending neutral and supportive messages: "I'm thinking about you. How are things going?" Continue to invite him to family events.
You need to take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and tell yourself not to surrender your emotional life to a teenager. You moving forward and succeeding in college will provide a very good example for him to follow.
DEAR AMY: I am a single woman in my 60s.
I went on a dinner date last week. He ordered only appetizers for us both (not asking what I wanted). I thought perhaps he was trying to control the bill since this was our first date since meeting on Match.com. At the end of the meal, I asked if I could help with the bill. He said that I could pay next time. I didn't know whether or not he meant it.
He asked me out for our next dinner date. He chose the restaurant, and ordered an entree and a dessert. Then he picked up the bill and handed it to me saying, "You are paying, right?"
I felt an ache in the pit of my stomach, but I paid the bill.
Am I out of touch for thinking that the man should at least try to woo you for some time, before expecting the woman to reciprocate?
Should we go Dutch? Help! -- Dating
DEAR DATING: When you meet an online stranger to see if you're a match, you should not meet for a meal, but for coffee. Restaurant meals are too high stakes.
Yes, you should split the check on a first date. After that, whoever suggests the date and picks the place should also offer to pay.
There is no reason for a man to exclusively want to "woo" you, any more than you would want to woo him.
So -- keep your finances separate for now and concentrate on the (hopefully mutual) wooing.
DEAR AMY: I have another tip for "Trying to be my Own Magic Wand," who is trying to be as effective and energized at home as she is at work.
I love crossing items off of lists. Sometimes I will actually write down something I've already done, just for the satisfaction of crossing it off the list. -- Listing to the Side
DEAR LISTING: I've done this, too! The feeling of completion can stimulate the energy to do more.
Contact Amy Dickinson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or like her on Facebook.