DEAR AMY: I recently got divorced. My wife told me she had fallen out of love, and I agreed to leave.
We have two girls, ages 6 and 9. We're great parents and get along well. We try to be good for the sake of the children.
My older daughter has blamed my ex for making her daddy leave. She's out of control and doesn't mind her mother well.
They argue constantly. Our daughter is having trouble in school and is lying and being disobedient.
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!"
I would take them out for dinner, movies and other outings. We spent time together as a family, despite the divorce.
Now my ex is seeing someone. I've met him and approve of him, even though I longed for a chance to get back together.
She told me they've decided to move in together — with the kids.
I think this might confuse the children and cause more damage, especially to the older one who's having the most trouble with our divorce. 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 — whom they love very much and who are so affectionate with each other — aren't together.
Every young child fantasizes that his or her parents will stay together. This fantasy is intensified after a divorce. It is fueled by a child's own obvious wishes and movies like "The Parent Trap."
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. On her way out of town, Dot had called her and complained about a number of things that bothered her about our hospitality.
I was shocked. I felt we had had a wonderful time and I had been extremely generous and hospitable, even though Dot never contributed or expressed her gratitude.
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? She's headed this way for the holidays but not staying with me!
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 or not you want to respond.
Dot doesn't sound like a friend worth having. Someone who accepts hospitality, doesn't express her thanks, and then complains and gossips is going to run through her list of hometown friends pretty quickly. You're the first casualty.
DEAR AMY: I have read letters asking you to interpret what people mean when they specify "no gifts" on an invitation.
For my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, they had a large party.
On the invitations it read, "Your presence shall be your gift." I love the elegance, simplicity and, most of all, the clarity. Perhaps some readers will use this to invite friends and family to celebrate without gift-giving.
— Gifted Reader
DEAR READER: I agree that this wording is perfect. I assure you, however, that there are people who could read it and still wonder what gift they should bring.
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