September 18, 2020

By Marcy Sugar

By Kathy Mitchell

September 18, 2020 4 min read

Dear Annie: My wife gave her ex (her son's father) a key to our home without telling me. I found out when I got home and he was sitting in our living room surfing the Web on my laptop.

My wife says she gave him the key so he can let himself in on the three nights a month he's scheduled to pick up their son for dinner as part of the custody agreement. But he has been making a lot of unscheduled stops at our house — to use the bathroom, have a snack, etc. I told my wife I don't like this, but she said, "Don't be selfish. It's my home, too!" I spoke to this man politely and told him I don't want him letting himself in, but he replied, "She says I can come over whenever I like."

Am I being unreasonable about this arrangement? I thought married people are supposed to agree on things like this. It's almost as though I have to share my home with this man, and he's not even a helpful guest. He'll eat a generous amount of food out of the fridge and leave dirty dishes in the sink. Last week, he bought his son a videogame console and violent videogames, which my wife and I had previously agreed would not be allowed in our home. Father and son will spend time playing games in his room when the boy is supposed to be doing his homework, sometimes late at night. I know the guy needs time with his kid, but there's no reason why he can't take the boy out to eat, to a movie or to a museum.

The ex never made much effort to see his son until we married. This is my first marriage, and I've never had any kids of my own, so I'm not entirely sure how to handle it. But I teach high school, and I've seen one long sad parade of kids whose parents don't maintain authority. So, Annie, what is the verdict? Should he have a key or not? — The Husband

Dear Husband: Our vote is "not," especially since he abuses the privilege. It may be her house, but it's also yours. And while it's nice to be welcoming to her son's father, he should not have the run of your home, dropping in unexpectedly and keeping his son up all hours. This is not responsible parenting. It is indulgence. Dad needs to be as diligent a parent as Mom. He cannot be a "fun dad" and do things Mom would not otherwise allow. This does a disservice to the child. Please ask your wife to get into family counseling with you to work on this. Also look into the National Stepfamily Resource Center (stepfamilies.info).

Dear Annie: This is for "Confused Family Member," whose niece had a large wedding months after a civil ceremony.

My daughter also married civilly two weeks prior to big wedding bash for legal reasons. Her husband was being deployed within the month and she needed power of attorney in order to purchase their new home and do other things. We did not announce it, so as not to confuse anyone. And she kept her maiden name. She is also in the service, and it saved a lot of paperwork. — Tootles

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.

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