Ask Amy

Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 11:00pm

DEAR AMY: My daughter is getting married in a few months, and she and her fiance are having a problem. Her fiance's parents divorced when he was 8 years old.

His father remarried and is now separated from that wife. They live in separate households but are still on friendly terms. When they separated, his father reconnected with his mother. The two are now dating and going places together, but the father also spends holidays and takes trips with his second wife.

When the fiance was growing up, his stepmother was very abusive to him. Now, his father says he wants both his first and second wives at the wedding. My daughter's fiance does not want his stepmom at the wedding because he avoids her at all costs, and he is afraid she will drink too much and make a scene.

His mother does not want the stepmom at the wedding either because in view of her current relationship with his father, she feels it would be an insult to her to have the second wife there.

My daughter's fiance feels that he and the bride should decide on the guests. His father says it is a matter of propriety to have his second wife at the wedding. He is becoming more and more demanding about this issue, and it is causing a great deal of anxiety.
Could you help us?

— A Concerned Mother

DEAR CONCERNED: Having both of his wives at the wedding is a matter of propriety, in that it is inappropriate.

If the father and his second wife were living together, she (in addition to the fiance's mother) would be included, but because they are separated, her invitation should come at the discretion of the marrying couple.

I know couples that have welcomed former stepparents to their weddings, but these are cases where the relationships are intact and happy.

The couple will have to be firm about the guest list and face the consequences as the father attempts to manipulate them.


DEAR AMY: I took my nephew, who is now 7 years old, to a Chuck E. Cheese's, and I had to make a decision regarding his use of the public washroom.

I wasn't sure whether I should accompany him in the washroom because of the possibility of child predators preying on kids in restrooms. I know the possibility of children being abused in a public washroom is real but remote. I erred on the side of caution and went with him.

Do you believe it is necessary for guardians to accompany children into public washrooms? If so, at what age should I stop?

— Raymond

DEAR RAYMOND: I do think it's necessary to accompany a 7-year-old into the washroom. For older children (up to about age 12) you can walk them in, look around, wash your hands and wait outside the door. Teens can excuse themselves and go to the restroom, but I think you should still be cautious, and, if possible, use the restroom at the same time they do.

This gets challenging when you are with a child of the opposite gender. The problem is mitigated somewhat by the presence of "family" bathrooms, which seem to be more common lately.


DEAR AMY: I can't believe you allowed your column to be used for the bigoted letter from "J From Los Angeles," who was complaining about workers at her local nail salon not speaking English. Doesn't J imagine that immigrants are the only people who are willing to work in this sort of demeaning and toxic environment?

— Outraged

DEAR OUTRAGED: You are one of many readers objecting to this letter. It didn't seem bigoted to me, as much as a description of a fairly common experience, when people transact business in English but then converse in front of customers using their native language.

I've never thought of nail salons as being demeaning environments, but rather expressions of the entrepreneurial efforts of people who have figured out how to make a buck from the vanity of those who desire and can afford their services.

That's about as "American" as you can get.

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Filed under: Lifestyles