Ask Amy

Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:45pm

DEAR AMY: I need to know how I can politely decline letting my son, "Buddy," play at a friend's house without causing hurt feelings. My son's friend, "Timothy," is a very sweet boy, and I frequently let my son invite him over to play or spend the night. However, my husband and I are not comfortable letting Buddy play or stay at Timothy's house.

His parents have been very nice to us and I really like them, but they smoke in their home and are known to be big partyers.

Two of their adult neighbors who lost their licenses after driving under the influence frequent their home.

It seems like every time I drop off their son, someone's leaving the house with a beer and a cigarette.

I don't want to offend them by not allowing my son to come over, but I also have to protect my child. Help!

—Shelly

DEAR SHELLY: If this family had a swimming pool that they didn't have a fence around or supervise very well, or a dog that snapped and bit children, you probably wouldn't hesitate to express your concern about the risk of sending your son to their house.

Well, smoking poses a health risk that you feel strongly about, so be friendly and frank when you discuss this with the parents.

Say, "We don't feel comfortable sending Buddy to your house because we don't want him exposed to secondhand smoke. I hope it's OK with you if we have the boys spend time together at our house. We really do enjoy Timothy's company and know that he and Buddy have a great friendship going."


DEAR AMY: My fiance was in a 23-year relationship, which ended when the woman died about five years ago.

(He and I had a relationship 30 years ago that we rekindled almost a year ago. Now we want to get married.)

He wears a ring around his neck that belonged to his deceased girlfriend.

Also, in one of his cabinets is a shelf dedicated to her memory, which includes her ashes, her obituary and a photo of the two of them.

He told me it is to honor their long relationship.

I feel that to build a relationship, it is necessary to let go of past ones.

I didn't say he should forget about the person, but put the remembrances in a safe place and move on.

He doesn't want to hear me mention the name of my ex, and yet expects me to look at this reminder of his past on a constant basis.

Am I being petty?

—Don't Want Reminders

DEAR REMINDERS: Every couple has to negotiate this sticky issue to some extent, but surely there is plenty of room between your position of wanting no reminders of his previous relationship (or his not wanting you to utter the name of your ex) and the other extreme, which is his choice to wear his deceased girlfriend's ring.

You both should be open to hearing about the important relationships in your lives.

You should agree that once you are married, the girlfriend's ring will come off of your husband's neck and be placed with his memorial collection in a discreet location.


DEAR AMY: On a recent transatlantic flight, I was in the window seat next to a woman who was the best sleeper I've ever seen.

When I described her near-coma to my husband, he said it sounded like she was drugged, and I remembered seeing her take a pill from a prescription bottle just before takeoff.

I tried several times to politely rouse her, but the only time she woke up was for the meal when her tray table was down. I've been thinking that maybe it was a potential safety issue.

Should I have asked her what she was taking when I saw the pills come out? Should I have told the flight attendants?

—Standing By

DEAR STANDING BY: Some travelers take sleep aids before transatlantic flights, thereby missing the movie and delicious snacks. If your seatmate was actually in a near-coma, or if you needed to get out and couldn't rouse her, you should have notified the flight attendant. Otherwise, put your tray table in an upright and locked position, and enjoy the flight.

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