DEAR AMY: My husband and I occasionally meet my friend and her husband for dinner. They are younger and have one child who is just starting elementary school. They never get a baby sitter. They bring their child with them to some very nice restaurants.
My friend and I always have a lot to talk about. However, her husband was seated next to my husband and pretty much ignored him and was very involved with the child.
My husband really doesn’t want to go out with them anymore. I understand. I can meet her separately for lunch. But I would really like to keep them as “couple” friends too. My husband wants me to suggest that they get a sitter. They both have advanced degrees and have excellent careers, so they can afford a sitter. However, I don’t really know how to suggest that they hire a baby sitter so we can have an adult conversation. -- Unsure
DEAR UNSURE: It might not be realistic for you to keep these people as “couple” friends, because they aren’t a couple — they’re a family, and their practice is to include their daughter in adult events.
It doesn’t matter how educated they are or whether they can afford a sitter. Some families simply don’t leave their child at home and more or less submerge their individuality for 15-20 years while they pour everything they have into their children. This can be especially true with career couples who don’t spend a lot of time with their kids during the day.
If your friends are in this category, suggesting they leave their child with a sitter will be like suggesting they leave her in the car with the window cracked.
If this is the case, you should accept this child as part of a package deal. And once in a while, this might be completely enjoyable for all of you.
Otherwise, ask, “Do you ever leave ‘Lucy’ with a sitter? We enjoy her but we would also love to go out with just the two of you.”
DEAR AMY: I loved your answer to “Feeling Betrayed,” the homophobic parent wanting her/his son to “stop being gay.”
The part of your response where you addressed this parent forgetting the son’s birthday for three years in a row hit a tender spot in me.
My husband has forgotten my birthday for the last two years. He has also forgotten it a few other times. We have been married 12 years. The second year in a row was very painful.
How would you respond to my husband? -- Sad Wife
DEAR SAD: I heard from thousands of people after that letter ran. While supportive of the main part of my advice, many people said, “How could a parent forget a child’s birthday? This doesn’t happen.” Others said, “My mother/father forgot my birthday and it hurt so much.”
I think that anyone who forgets a beloved and close family member’s birthday is disrespecting that person and in a basic sense negating that person’s identity.
Granted, people are flawed and sometimes forgetful.
But here’s the thing about birthdays: Birthdays mark a person’s presence in the world. I’m not talking about receiving loads of gifts. I’m talking about someone taking a minute to say, “I celebrate you. I’m so happy you’re here.”
You should talk to your husband about this and remind him in advance of the day. I realize this is not what you want to do, but he sounds like a guy who needs an annual “heads-up.”
DEAR AMY: “Flummoxed” wrote about her niece posting disrespectful comments about her own secretary on Facebook.
“Dignity resides in the person, not in the job.” This is taken from a quote uttered by the character Spock on “Star Trek.”
Facebook seems to be a breeding ground for petty tyrants. Perhaps it is because Facebook is a place where some are always busy minding everybody else’s business, and acceptable boundaries, for all types of behaviors, have become irreparably blurred. -- Steve
DEAR STEVE: I disagree with you about Facebook, but I agree with all things Spock. Thank you for the wise quote.