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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. My daughter, who has three children (ages 5, 7 and 9) and who has been in three or four serious relationships since her marriage ended, now has a new boyfriend. He’s very nice, but she lets him sleep over when her children are there.

They talk about how mommy has her boyfriend sleep over, and I'm afraid that they will be hurt by this. Her other boyfriends slept over, too, but I think the children are old enough now to know what’s what and that they could be hurt by this.

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She doesn't listen to anything I have to say and thinks they’re too young to understand or be hurt by this. The kids spend a lot of time with the boyfriend and talk about how they “love’’ him. What should I do to make sure my grandchildren don't get hurt or messed up by their mother's actions? Sad Gran

A. Let's assume that your daughter always chooses to be with men who are wonderful and trustworthy and pose no threat to her or the kids. Unfortunately, the more men who pass through the household, the more likely it is that one or more of them might not be appropriate as part of the family.

She should be extremely careful and private with her romantic relationships until she has a relationship with someone that will be long term.

However, it is possible that for these kids, their mother has done this often enough that this is more or less normal for them. They will grow quickly attached to whoever is there, and if the guy is good to her and to them, it will work out until he is gone.

Breakups are hard on everyone, but the kids will carry the heaviest emotional consequences of having different men pass through their lives. Your daughter will see this when they are older and forming, or unable to form, lasting attachments of their own.

But your daughter will not listen to you (or to me) about this, and so you should do what she won’t: Put the children first. Spend as much time with these kids as you can. Don't ever criticize their mother or put these children on the spot. Be a positive, calm, loving, and stable presence in their lives.

My son began kindergarten this year. Maybe it's an overreaction, but I was shocked to see a note about head lice in his class. Was I worried about head lice? No. What concerned me was the number of spelling and grammatical errors in the four-paragraph letter.

I have considered writing an anonymous letter to the principal but don't want to seem nitpicky (excuse the pun). Do you think I should point it out to the school or let it ride?

Mum on Spelling

A. There is no need to send an anonymous note about this. This is an issue familiar to many parents, and you should raise it openly with the principal. Your child’s teacher may be terrific. But part of her job is to communicate effectively with the parents, and in this regard, she needs to be more professional.

Q. Regarding the question from “Concerned Mother,” who was uncomfortable with her daughter having Barbie dolls: When I was growing up, I loved my Barbies. I lined them up and we played school. I taught them what I learned in class. I helped them solve little-girl problems.

For a child, there is much more to a Barbie than the way she looks. This mom should relax and allow her 5-year-old's imagination to take over.

Barbie Fan

A. I agree.

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.
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