Annie's Mailbox for Monday, December 13, 2010

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Dear Annie: After 18 years of marriage, my husband and I divorced three years ago. My daughter has always been a Daddy’s girl and resents me for divorcing her father. We never see eye to eye on anything.

“Keisha” is now 13 years old and lives with her father. Her 11-year-old brother recently told me he wants to live with Dad, too. My son has not been happy living here because he’s often by himself. My ex still lives in our old house where the children grew up, and they still have friends next door.

I understand why my kids prefer to live in the old neighborhood, and I want to do what’s best for them. Their dad is a good provider and a loving father, and I believe having a male influence would be especially beneficial for my son. But I don’t want my family and friends to think of me as a bad person for “giving my children away.” And I don’t know whether I can handle seeing my children every other weekend. What do you think I should do?

— At a Loss

Dear At a Loss: While it is more common for mothers to have primary custody of children, there is no particular reason it has to be that way, especially since your ex-husband still lives in the family home.

It takes a certain degree of courage on your part to give your children this opportunity to spend more time with a loving father in a familiar environment near their friends and school, and that’s what you should tell anyone who questions you.

Your kids are old enough to be included in the decision process so they understand why you are agreeing to this. And try to arrange some one-on-one time with each of them, especially Keisha, who will benefit from having her mother close by as she grows up.

Dear Annie: My wife and I are in our late 50s and have moved around the country several times over the years. As a result, we travel quite often to visit friends in places where we used to live. Often, our friends invite us to spend the night.

We are in disagreement about etiquette in the bedroom when we are houseguests. She gets turned on by the idea of making love in other people’s homes and often tries to initiate sex. I have always believed that it is poor manners, and it makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes I am a reluctant participant, but I feel guilty the next morning in front of our hosts. Is there a rule of thumb about this? — Reluctant

Dear Reluctant: It is OK for houseguests to have sex in someone else’s home provided things don’t get noisy, you don’t make a mess, you are doing it in a guest bedroom (not, for example, in front of the hosts’ fireplace) and you are generally discreet. The problem is, your wife is excited by the possibility of getting “caught,” and this completely turns you off. We recommend she respect your wishes when in a friend’s home, and you should look for other ways to satisfy her wilder urges.

Dear Annie: I am writing in response to “The Luckiest,” who is thankful for her adoptive family because she was loved and given a good life with many privileges.

Unlike many adoptees, she was fortunate to find her birth parents and half-siblings. I also consider myself lucky because my adoptive parents gave me a good life, but I miss that I will never know who my birth parents were — what they looked like or what talents they had. I also have no medical history. Material comforts and opportunities never fully compensate for the loss.

“The Luckiest” is luckier than most because she has learned her biological identity. There are many adult adoptees who continue to spend their lives looking and wondering. — Somewhat Lucky

Dear Lucky: We agree that at the very least, a medical history should be made available to all adopted children. You might benefit from joining an adult adoptee support group, of which there are dozens available online.

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