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Closeness with his former wife confuses their kids

November 23, 2009

Dear Amy: I recently got divorced. We have two girls, ages 6 and 9. We're great parents and get along well.

My older daughter has blamed my ex for making her daddy leave. She's out of control and doesn't mind her mother well.

For a while after we broke up, I was going to the house and sleeping over as friends. The kids saw us hug and kiss and said, "You guys look so good together!" and "Give daddy a kiss, Mommy!"

Now my ex is seeing someone. She told me they've decided to move in together -- with the kids.

I think this might confuse the children and cause more damage. I think this is selfish.

Shouldn't she wait?

Helpless Husband

Dear Helpless: I applaud your good relationship with your ex, but your closeness is creating problems for you and especially your children.

Your kids are confused because they can't figure out why their parents aren't together.

Every young child fantasizes that his or her parents will stay together. This fantasy is intensified after a divorce.

It is vital that you establish and maintain definite boundaries, so the kids understand that you and your ex love them but that you aren't together as a couple.

I agree that your ex should not have a man move in -- or sleep over -- when the kids are there. That includes you. You and your ex should consider seeing a professional counselor who could help you clarify matters for your kids.


Dear Amy: Last year, my friend "Dot" and her family moved out of state. I am fortunate to have a large home, and I invited her to stay with us.

She and her 6-year-old son came to stay for five days this summer.

While Dot was here, I had a barbecue in her honor. We had a great time.

The day she left, our friend "Kerry" called me. Dot had called her and complained about a number of things that bothered her about our hospitality.

Kerry feels she was wrong to break this confidence and doesn't want me to say anything to Dot.

Should I respect Kerry's wishes or confront Dot?


Dear Chagrined: You can handle this without involving Kerry. Call Dot and say, "We haven't spoken lately. I never heard from you after you stayed here."

This will give Dot a chance to spin her tale, and you can choose whether you want to respond. Dot doesn't sound like a friend worth having.

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

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