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    Ask Amy column

    Q. I am a freshman in high school. Last year, I often had trouble getting up in the morning, which caused me to miss the school bus multiple times. My parents helped me to fix this issue by having me go to bed earlier. This year, I have not missed the bus once and have been getting myself up on time.

    The problem is this: My parents still won’t let me stay up later. They still make me go to bed at around 9:45, even though I am not at all tired and I usually don’t fall asleep for at least another hour (even after reading). All I ask is to be allowed to go to bed around 10:15 after watching some TV. My older brother has been going to bed past 11 p.m. for years.

    How can I convince my parents that they are being completely draconian and that they can trust me to get up on time with going to bed later?



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    A. By all means, use the word “draconian” when you are trying to communicate with your parents. We parents love it when our kids use their vocabulary words in the correct context, and this tells me that you’ve been paying attention in school — and that you are rested enough to be articulate. On the other hand, if your folks know what “draconian” means, they might not be too thrilled.

    The solution here seems obvious. You negotiate with your parents a “limited-time” offer. Ask them to test you by letting you stay up half an hour later all next week. Tell them that if you oversleep even once all deals will be off and you’ll agree to go to bed at whatever time they choose.

    Be aware that teens need almost as much sleep as toddlers do, and the fact that they don’t get it is one reason they sometimes act like toddlers.

    Q. I am a 30-year-old woman and have been dating a 40-year-old man. He has never been married. I want to be married, but I’m wondering if he will ever settle down. All he cares about is his job and how he looks. He’s obsessed with getting new cars, which he says he needs because he thinks they impress women.


    I don’t want to date him anymore, and I want you to tell me how to break up with him.


    A. Here’s how to break up with a commitment-phobe: You say, “Honey, I love you. Will you marry me?” The only hazard here is the need to protect yourself from flying gravel as he peels out of your driveway.

    If you lack the nerve to call his bluff in this way, you need only say, “You and I want different things. I need to break up with you.”

    Q. I know you took some flak for your response to the “Kissed Consultant,” who reported that her brand-new client kissed her straight on the lips after a business lunch. You suggested that the consultant should notify the board of directors about this man’s actions.


    I thought your comments were right on target, Amy. When something like this happened to me, I reported it to my boss (it was his boss who was the kisser). He talked to his boss who later called me to apologize.


    A. Unless this sort of thing has happened to you, I don’t know if people can imagine what a violation this is from a business associate who is also a complete stranger. No matter what the intention might have been, this is not an affectionate or friendly act, but one that seems aggressive. It is highly inappropriate.

    Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.