Ask Amy: ‘Modern family’ seeks sleepover advice

June 16

DEAR AMY: I have a “modern family” etiquette question for you.

I’m a divorced mother of two, and I’m in a committed same-sex relationship. My partner does not live with us, but she is always with us on the weekends.

My kids are getting to an age where they want to have friends sleep over. Some friends’ parents know my partner, but others probably have no idea that I’m gay.

With parents who know my partner, I’d have no problem making sure they don’t mind that she sleeps over when their kids are also there, but I don’t know what I should say to parents who I don’t know as well.

Should I “come out” to the other parents when the invitation is issued to be sure they are okay with my partner being there? Should I say nothing and risk problems with the parents later if a child’s friend goes home with questions? Should I not allow sleepovers if my partner is there and the other parents don’t know about her?

I don’t want to hide my relationship, but I also want to be respectful of what other parents are ready to discuss with their kids. -- A Mom

DEAR MOM: This is not an etiquette question (or even a “modern family” question). It’s a parenting question.

Think of this as a mom. Don’t you want to know about all adults in a household before you send your child into the household for an overnight? (Hint: yes, you absolutely do.)

Whether a household comprises Susan, Diane, Uncle Bud and the kids — or whether grandparents, cousins or older siblings and their friends are at home — you should know about all other people present in the home when you send your child there for an overnight.

If you were a divorced mom in a relationship with a man, you would be expected to disclose this to other parents — if the man was spending the night at your home during a child’s sleepover.

Some parents do not feel comfortable sending their child for an overnight where two unmarried people are sleeping together, regardless of their sexuality.

In your case, you say, “My partner ‘Helen’ spends the weekends with us. She’s virtually a member of the family. She’ll be here, and I want to make sure you’re okay with it and get the chance to meet her.”

It might be best to offer a general introduction to parents during a non-overnight function such as a birthday party or barbecue at your house.

If this amounts to a “coming out” for you, then so be it.

DEAR AMY: I have two daughters. They are both hard working and doing well. They are my parents’ only grandchildren.

My youngest daughter has surmounted challenges relating to her health and also severe ADHD, but she is graduating from high school (early). She already has a full-time job and has decided to hold off on going to college. My other daughter graduated from a prestigious college and is working full time.

My parents would like to give my youngest daughter money for graduation, but they asked me, “Can she handle money?” (She can.)

They fear she will spend it all in one lump sum, and so they propose putting it in a bank account and having my daughter “request” it when she feels it is needed. What do you think of this idea? They gave the same amount to my other daughter without any rules or hesitation. -- Mom

DEAR MOM: Getting money with strings attached forces your daughter to “pitch” her grandparents when she wants access to her own money. I think it’s a bad idea. Assure them that she will appreciate this gift and that how she “handles” it will be up to her.

DEAR AMY: “Overconcerned Mom?” wondered what she should do when her kids came home from Grandpa’s house filthy and basically uncared for.

I agree with you. This is not grandfatherly indulgence. This is neglect. -- Grandpa

DEAR GRANDPA: “Mom’s” description was pretty extreme; I think this grandfather’s treatment of the kids definitely warrants a closer look.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2014 by the Chicago Tribune

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