Dear Annie: My live-in girlfriend and I, both 58 years old, have a dilemma.
Several times a month, we watch her 7-year-old granddaughter for a night or two, usually on weekends. The child arrives in the evening, stays up until 3 or 4 a.m. and sleeps until early afternoon. I have made fun plans, only to be told that we have to cancel because the child is sleeping. I never know when to make plans.
My girlfriend is tired and haggard by the time the child goes home, and this causes friction in our relationship. I feel boundaries need to be set. I have suggested that we set bedtime rules. I am told that this child has no structure at home and Grandma will not or cannot set rules.
I am very frustrated. We are planning on taking the child on a quick trip to my mother’s in Florida, but I fear it will be ruined by the child’s sleep schedule. What should I do?
— Sleep Deprived
Dear Sleep Deprived: Children crave structure and boundaries. It helps them feel safe and secure. Your instinct is completely correct. When she stays at Grandma’s house, it is Grandma’s rules, and those rules should be that a 7-year-old goes to bed at a decent hour.
Staying awake until 3 or 4 a.m. is not healthy for anyone, let alone a child who is growing and developing. My guess is that your girlfriend ran this type of household with her daughter, and now she is just repeating the cycle and not wanting to step in.
If you really want to help this child, continue to speak with your girlfriend about the importance of structure and rules. If your girlfriend continues to ignore you, then no Florida.
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Dear Annie: I just read the letter from “Old Curmudgeon” and would like to add to your reply. You are right to encourage him to attend his wife’s nephew’s second wedding. Family shows up for family, especially for weddings and funerals.
But please allow me to use your space to make a plea to future brides and grooms, and the parents who pay, to consider the financial impact of your decisions on the bank accounts (and anxiety levels) of your guests.
My husband and I are blessed to have seven beautiful children between the ages of 22 and 35. All but one are married, and there have been no destination weddings or no bachelor/bachelorette party trips. All six weddings have been beautiful (perfect, actually!), and I can say with confidence that guests and members of the wedding parties have not suffered financial strain.
Meanwhile, however, my children have traveled to various islands and faraway places, such as Mexico, Las Vegas, Spain and Ireland, for weddings and parties of their many friends and cousins. And, yes, my husband and I have made a few of these trips.
The amount my family has spent on wedding travel and accommodations over the years is astronomical. And for what? Must you have a wedding in Spain or Ireland? And can we please say, “Enough!” regarding three-day bachelor/bachelorette party trips? It’s a party, not a “vacation.”
Oh, my. Now I sound like the curmudgeon. I’m not grumpy — just realistic about money, knowing most 20- to 30-year-olds do not have $1,000-plus to plop down every time a friend gets married.
— So Over Over-the-Top Weddings
Dear So Over Over-the-Top Weddings: Thank you for your letter, which, based on the mail, offers a perspective many readers share.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her debut book, Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie, features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. Email your Dear Annie questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.