DEAR ABBY: After the birth of our son, "Ricky," my husband insisted he sleep in our bed with us. When our son was 3, I finally put my foot down because none of us were sleeping peacefully. Ricky is now 8, and my husband lies in his bed with him until he falls asleep.
Our daughter, "Julie," was born 2 1/2 years ago. She slept in our bed until she was 1, when I moved her to her own bed. She goes down well on her own, but seems to be more clingy (with me especially) during the day. I try to make sure she gets the affection she needs before bedtime, but I feel guilty that she doesn't get that closeness at night.
By the end of the day I'm exhausted, and I do not want to fall asleep in a kid's bed. Am I wrong for wanting bedtime without kids? At what age should children sleep on their own? — SLEEPY IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR SLEEPY: You're not wrong. Some parents co-sleep with their children for the first few months after they are born because they enjoy the closeness. After that, they transition the baby to sleeping in a crib nearby so the child's needs can be attended to as necessary.
According to Los Angeles pediatrician Dr. Faisal Chawla, children form their sleep habits early: "The longer co-sleeping continues, the more difficult sleeping separately becomes. At 7 or 8 months, babies begin to develop age-appropriate separation anxiety. By the age of 1, a routine is usually set in a child's mind. By age 2, it becomes very difficult to change the sleeping routine because of the 'terrible 2s' temperament that begins."
Your husband has done Ricky no favors by continuing to lie beside him until he falls asleep. Your son should have started sleeping alone years ago. A boy his age should be able to go to sleepovers at friends' houses or away to summer camp without having to worry about sleeping because his dad isn't there.
DEAR ABBY: My boss and his wife recently hosted an employee appreciation dinner party at their home. We have close to 100 employees, and because of limited space, we were asked not to bring children. However, the invitations did indicate "and guest" (or our spouse's or significant other's name, if they knew it).
One of my co-workers, a single woman, asked me if I thought it would be OK if she brought a female friend (not someone she is in a relationship with). My interpretation of the invite in this particular situation was that if one co-worker couldn't bring their teenage child due to space limitations, it wouldn't be appropriate for another to bring a casual friend. To me, it seemed to be bad manners. What do you think? — APPRECIATION DINNER
DEAR APPRECIATION: When a host issues an invitation that says "and guest," it means the host is prepared to accommodate whomever the invitee would like to bring. According to my interpretation, it would be wrong to bring a teenager to an adults-only business-related dinner because the younger person would likely feel out of place. However, bringing a companion along would not be considered a breach of etiquette.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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