Ask Amy: Perhaps the weight your girlfriend needs to lose is you

August 5, 2012

DEAR AMY: I’ve been divorced for a couple of years and generally everything is going well. I’ve circled my wagons around raising our children, who are 7 and 8 years old.

My ex and I have equal shared responsibilities for raising the kids, although I provide all the income. That is not the issue, though.

My problem is that my ex regularly has her boyfriends over to her house while the children are there. I’ve requested numerous times that if she wants to have her friends come over, then to do so when the kids are with me. A simple phone call and I would come and get them.

My point is why should my kids deal with the emotional problems when she has a breakup with one of her boyfriends?

In one situation, the boyfriend had a couple of children of his own, and for a few weeks they all paraded around mimicking the Brady Bunch until the relationship went sour. When it did, my ex told our kids that the other kids went out of town.

Well, they didn’t go out of town — the relationship ended.

What are your thoughts? -- Bob

DEAR BOB: I hate to burst your nice ex-relationship bubble, but your ex-wife’s behavior and choices are pretty atrocious, and I think you should do more than provide the structure for her to be a better parent and suggest repeatedly that she show better judgment.

You are absolutely correct that her choice to introduce various boyfriends into the kids’ lives is confusing and chaotic for them, during a time when both parents should be working extra hard to make their lives stable.

As to her lying about a relationship, well, she will see how that will turn out when the children are teenagers and lying to her about their own relationships.

I think you should check with your lawyer and revisit your custody agreement. You are the more responsible parent, and the children might do best living with you full time, with visitations with their mother.

DEAR AMY: Mrs. Smith and I were married for 15 years. We had a son, then we got divorced. Both of us remarried. She is now Mrs. Jones.

Our son is now an adult and has a girlfriend who sends out chatty e-mails about their doings. She refers to me as “Father Smith” and my ex as “Mother Jones.”

That’s all good.

Then she refers to my ex’s current husband as “Father Jones” and my current wife by her first name, let’s say “Mary.”

On one hand, I understand. To refer to my current wife as “Mother Smith” would be a slap in the face to my ex-wife. Yet to give my ex’s current husband the honorific of “father” while not giving the title of “mother” to my current wife seems also to be a slap in my wife’s face.

The whole thing seems like hairsplitting. While I want to ignore it and hope it goes away, I think I should send my son’s girlfriend a note and say, “You know, calling one stepparent ‘Father Jones’ and the other stepparent ‘Mary’ is a bit unbalanced. How about we drop the honorifics?”

What do you think? -- Mr. Smith

DEAR MR. SMITH: If I were “Mary,” I’d be relieved not to be referred to like a character from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, but hey, that’s me.

You need to find out from Mary whether this really bothers her, or if it only bothers you. If she doesn’t mind it, do nothing.

This girlfriend sounds like a sweetie. You can’t really ask her to change the way she addresses your ex and her husband, but you could convey, “You are sweet to refer to me as ‘Father Smith,’ but how about you call Mary and me by our first names? We’d prefer that.”

DEAR AMY: I want to commend you for your compassionate answer to “Concerned Young Adult,” who was trying hard to break his addiction to prescription medication. I hope he follows your advice and gets help. -- Concerned Reader

DEAR CONCERNED: My heart broke when I read his letter. Recent news stories and studies indicate that prescription drug abuse is the latest American drug epidemic, with an estimated 1 in 12 high school seniors in 2011 reporting they took Vicodin for a nonmedical use.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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