Ask Amy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 1:00am

DEAR AMY: I have been dating a gentleman, "Chris," who has been divorced for more than four years now. Chris was very close with his ex-wife and her family. They had two wonderful kids together.

Chris says he tried to save his marriage, but he found out his ex was cheating on him with another woman. She is now living with her girlfriend, and he and she share equal custody of their children — one week on, one week off.

Chris' daughter, age 9, is "daddy's little girl" and knows how to get just about anything she wants. His son, who is 12, is close with his dad, but definitely not as close as his daughter.

My question is about their sleeping arrangements. His daughter sleeps with Dad every night unless he has a girlfriend sleep over. This has been going on since their divorce. I've told him numerous times that this is wrong.

I have my opinions on why he continues with this, but I will be forwarding your answer to him.

Am I just overly concerned, or is this a problem? Please give me your views on this.

— Concerned Friend

DEAR FRIEND: "Chris" is showing terrible judgment.

Sometimes these sleeping arrangements start when a young child is going through a divorce and feels anxious. The parent soothes the child by co-sleeping.

Through time, continual co-sleeping tends to perpetuate rather than calm a child's fears. The message the child receives is that the nighttime world is too frightening to face independently.

Another — perhaps more serious — issue is this father's choice to have his daughter sleep with him "unless he has a girlfriend sleep over."

He should not have girlfriends sleeping over when his children are in the home. (The same guideline applies to the mother.)

He certainly shouldn't set up a situation where he is essentially kicking his daughter out of his bed in order to have a girlfriend sleep with him. When he does so he sends the message to his daughter that the women in her father's life will always displace her.

This is toxic for the relationships between all parties involved and damaging to the girl's emotional development.

DEAR AMY: I have had a very close-knit group of five friends since high school.

I was recently asked by one of these friends to read at his wedding.

At first, I was overjoyed to have this opportunity and readily accepted. Then, a few days later, I was shocked to learn that he had asked all three of our other friends to be groomsmen, and one to be the best man.

Now I feel snubbed.

I don't know much about wedding traditions — the only wedding I've been to was my own — but I feel left out and saddened.

My friend is like a brother to me, and he said how happy he was that I agreed to read at the wedding.

Should I do it, or should I attend the event as a guest?

— Daniel

DEAR DANIEL: Being asked to read as part of the service is an honor, and I would think that rather than feel slighted you would be delighted to take on this task, which is often granted to family members.

Weddings often create stresses within families and among friends, but I think it's likely that your friend is singling you out to perform an important public function because he is trying to honor your relationship — and because he trusts your ability to do it well.

Try not to see this as a reflection of the pecking order of friendship and accept your assignment with grace.

DEAR AMY: "At Odds" didn't want to celebrate the birth of his out-of-wedlock great-grandchild.

His wife (who obviously has a corner on common sense in their family) should open a can of major attitude adjustment on him. Then let him offer thanks for a long life and the blessings of child, grandchild and great-grandchild. And then boot him out the door to do volunteer work at the local agency that deals with unwanted children.

He needs something constructive to occupy his time.

I have 13 grandkids, and three were born out of wedlock.

— Grateful Granddad

DEAR GRATEFUL: I bet all of your grandkids feel loved and wanted.

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