Dear Amy: I'm a single mom to a wonderful boy who will be 10 next month. His father has very limited involvement, and only just started paying child support last year because he was ordered to do so by a judge. He comes around when he feels like it and when he has the time.
Every year for my son's birthday, I end up spending a good chunk of money to throw him a party with his best friends. This year, he decided that he wanted a brand-new loft bed, which is about how much a party would cost. His grandparents (on his father's side) offered to let him host a sleepover at their house, so that I could spend the money on a new bed.
I can't host a sleepover with all of those boys in my tiny apartment, so I thought it was a great compromise.
Here's the rub: I think it would be presumptuous to leave all of the chaperoning and hosting duties solely to my son's grandparents, but I'm not comfortable spending the night there to help host the party.
I emailed my son's father and told him when the party was and asked him to make himself available, but he's refusing to do so.
I don't know what to do. I like my son's grandparents but I'm not comfortable spending the night at their house to serve as a co-host. What should I do? I'm certain that they would be happy to have me there and I don't want to tell them that I'm not comfortable spending the night at their house, but I'm not sure how to handle this.
— Devoted Mom
Dear Mom: Accept your former in-laws' generosity. This could be a great way for them to further establish a great connection with their grandson and his pals. I agree that you should offer to help.
Say to them, "This is a wonderful idea and I would love to help. I'll come over and be involved until we get the kids settled down, and then I'll come back in the morning and help make pancakes and clean up after the party-apocalypse. You should make sure to call me if anything comes up during the night."
If they offer again to have you spend the night, thank them but tell them, "I think I'd be a little more comfortable at my own place; I hope that's OK with you?"
All in all, these grandparents are stepping up in a wonderful way, and you should continue to foster this closeness, especially given the fact that their son is so unreliable.
Dear Amy: How do I respond to family members who will not mind their own business? I am the only boy in my family. I have five sisters and we are all close young adults.
If I have a disagreement with one of my sisters, oftentimes another sister who has nothing to do with the disagreement will get involved and turn a minor disagreement into a major dispute!
What should I do? If I respond, I get ganged-up on by both, but if I stay silent, I can't address the original issue.
— Confused Brother
Dear Brother: This is a common dynamic among siblings. I think it is important as an adult to calmly say to the person who is interfering, "Hey, I think you're trying to help, but we need to handle this on our own. Can you do me a favor and step back on this?"
This is about boundaries, and even if others don't respect boundaries, you should continue to draw them.
The sister relationship is complicated for you because men and women do tend to communicate differently.
Generally, women tend to use a talking style that is more "sharing," while men tend to focus on problem-solving. So a sister talking to you about your issues with another sister might sincerely believe that she is being helpful, while for you this is disruptive, because she can't solve this problem between you and someone else.
Always try to keep your statements when you disagree to "I" statements, and openly express your feelings: "When you do this, I feel like that..."
Dear Amy: Thank you for your thoughtful response to "Atheist Godfather," who had been asked to be a godfather to a Catholic child. You rightly pointed out how seriously this role should be approached.
I loved your suggestion that this thoughtful man should offer to be the child's "Goshfather."
Dear Admirer: Thank you!