Dear Amy:

My wife and I divorced in late 2002, and we share custody equally of our 10-year-old daughter.

When our daughter was born, we owned a house with one bedroom on the ground floor and two on the second floor. We slept on the ground floor.

When our daughter was 4, as part of her evolution toward independence, we bought her a bed and moved her into one of the second-floor bedrooms. Initially, our daughter found this scary, but we stuck with it, believing it was in her best interest to foster independence.

Last summer, I discovered that our daughter sleeps with her mother virtually every night. When she sleeps at my house, she sleeps in her own bed/bedroom, alone. This caused me grave concern, and I broached the topic with my ex. She seemed unconcerned.

- Concerned Father

Dear Concerned:

It seems that you were urging your young daughter toward independence and into a room on another floor of the house in the same year that you and your wife split. This experience, which you say your daughter found frightening, might have happened a little too soon for her.

Kids who co-sleep with parents sometimes do so because of their own unmet needs, but sometimes they are meeting the needs of the parent.

I wouldn't say this should cause you "grave" concern, but you are right to wonder if this is the right arrangement for your daughter. You should ask her if she likes sleeping with Mom, or if she would like for you to help her talk to her mother about fixing up her room. However, if she seems happy and secure in both homes, you shouldn't worry about it too much for now but continue to pay close attention.

Dear Amy: Every now and then, friends from out of town want to come visit. I live in a studio and don't have a spare room to accommodate a visitor. I am a very private person and need personal space.

I feel guilty about being inhospitable, but I also think I should not feel obligated to provide accommodations to friends who come to visit the city.

How do I convey the message that I am unable to provide housing without sounding inhospitable or offensive?

- Spaced Out

Dear Spaced:

Develop a list of local accommodations in different price ranges to forward to your friends when they inquire about visiting. Tell them, "My place is too tiny for guests, but if you come I'll do my best to show you the town."

There are all sorts of ways to be hospitable other than letting someone flop on your couch. You can be a good host by being generous with your time and attention.

 

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