Snoozers lousy babysitters

My husband and I have two small children under the age of five. He watches them on the weekend so I can get my errands done.

Dear Annie: My husband and I have two small children under the age of five.

He watches them on the weekend so I can get my errands done.

On more than one occasion, I’ve come home to find him fast asleep on the sofa while the kids are watching TV beside him, often eating snacks.

I have repeatedly asked him to stay awake because the three-year-old particularly could wander off and get hurt. Not to mention there’s always the risk of one of them choking while Daddy snoozes away.

He argues that I am overprotective and that he can hear them while he’s asleep.

Annie, we’ve been married eight years and the man sleeps like the dead. Last week, his parents encouraged me to take an hour to buy groceries while they babysat.

When I returned, both of them were sleeping on the sofa while my daughter played with her dolls.

I would never tolerate this behaviour from a babysitter, so why should I allow it from family members? Am I overreacting? How do I delicately tell his parents that they must stay awake when babysitting?

I appreciate their help, but I’m starting to think it’s not worth the risk. — Wide Awake in Florida

Dear Florida: It sounds like the whole family has a sleep disorder. You are not overreacting. Little children need to be supervised for precisely the reasons you state.

A lot of people find the TV to be an excellent sleep aid, so suggest they take the kids to the park, read them stories or play a game together.

If they still can’t be trusted to stay awake, hire an alert babysitter when you need to run errands, and don’t be shy about explaining why.

Dear Annie: I am in a marriage of convenience. We have a 13-year-old son who is a smart, happy kid.

Here is my concern: People have told me I am somehow damaging my child because my husband and I live completely separate lives (including sleeping arrangements).

Granted, I wish the marriage were different, mainly because the loneliness is overwhelming at times.

However, we are civil toward each other and come together in support of our son.

Do you think this situation is hurting him? If so, what should I be looking for? — Caring Parent

Dear Parent: The behaviour you model is what your son will bring into his future relationships.

Is there visible affection or kindness, albeit slight, between you and your husband? Do you have family meals together?

If your child is doing well, at home and in school, and his parents put up a convincing display of compatibility, we wouldn’t worry too much.

And if you think counselling will help your marital situation, by all means, go.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Desperate for Help in Massachusetts,” the frustrated husband whose wife of 25 years refuses sex and won’t go for therapy.

One wonders why these men stay in their marriages, which they claim are good otherwise.

Any woman who does not understand that sex is a normal part of marriage has severe problems.

Many of these women may be latent lesbians and want marriage only for the companionship or for children. Their husbands have the right to closely question their wives about this.

To remain in such a marriage is a mistake, as it indicates not only a lack of intimacy but selfishness and a dismissal of reality. I suspect these women may be cold emotionally in other areas, as well. — Burlington, Ont.

Dear Burlington: There are a variety of reasons why women lose interest in sex, and homosexuality, while possible, is nowhere near the top of the list. Hormonal imbalances, menopause and exhaustion are fairly common.

Also, for most women, intimacy and emotion are strongly connected.

Those who are unhappy with their partner do not respond in the bedroom.

But we agree that not making an effort to work on the problem is selfish and detrimental to the marriage.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

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