Dear Family Coach: A friend told me that my son's girlfriend was seen around town cozying up to another boy. Should I tell my son about it? — Meddler Mom
Dear Meddler: For teens today, the line between dating and socializing can be pretty confusing to parents. What appears to be flirting or suggestive body language to a grown-up might simply be a girl hanging out with her best guy friend. It's potentially an innocent friendship. However, it is also possible that the girlfriend is about to dump your son for the other guy. Either way I don't know that your son would enjoy hearing the news from his mother. He would likely be angrier with you than his girlfriend. And his embarrassment might be unbearable. It would be nice for your son to find your home a safe place amidst public humiliation. I wouldn't recommend mentioning what your friend saw. There is just too much conjecture to be helpful.
There is one caveat. If you and your son are exceptionally close and he tends to discuss his relationship with you, well, seek an opening. Try to feel him out by asking open-ended questions about his girlfriend and their relationship. Play it by ear from there. As the bearer of bad news, it's important to tread lightly and be gentle, for it could be painful for him.
Dear Family Coach: I'm tired of my kids sleeping in our bed at night. Sometimes they fall asleep in their beds, but they eventually end up in ours. My wife loves having them in bed. She works a lot and feels like she can make up for some of her time away by comforting them at night. The problem is that I am not sleeping well at all, and I think their being there is starting to impact my intimate time alone with my wife. How can I convince my wife to send the kids back to their own beds? — Tired Dad
Dear Tired: There are lots of reasons people enjoy having a family bed. Your wife is clearly reaping some of the benefits. And there are also clear reasons why some people shy away from the idea. You are feeling the effects. However, I do believe it's possible to find some middle ground.
I would tell your wife that you have some thoughts that you would like to discuss with her. Ask her to help you find a quiet time you can have together. Then explain what you miss when the bed becomes overly crowded. Tell her that you are exhausted and the kids are probably not getting perfect shut-eye either (waking up several times a night reduces the quality of sleep). Resist the urge to order your wife to remove the kids from the bed. That will not go over well. Instead, try to hear her out on what she gets out of having the kids in the room. Try to openly discuss your varying views and help each other find solutions to get what you need.
Here are a few mediating suggestions. Maybe your wife could do short snuggles in bed with the kids, and allow them to climb in bed for a morning snuggle, too. Maybe there are certain nights when it could be parents only in the bedroom, and on all other nights everyone is welcome. Or maybe you need to simply find some alone time together. A babysitter or a night at a nearby hotel while the grandparents watch the kids might do the trick.
Dr. Catherine Pearlman, the founder of The Family Coach, LLC, advises parents on all matters of child rearing. To write to Dr. Pearlman, send her an email at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Catherine Pearlman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.