How to get dinner friends to hire a sitter

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My husband and I occasionally meet my friend and her husband for dinner. They are younger and have one child who is just starting elementary school. They never get a baby sitter. They bring their child with them to some very nice restaurants. My friend and I always have a lot to talk about. However, her husband was seated next to my husband and pretty much ignored him and was very involved with the child. My husband really doesn't want to go out with them anymore. I understand. I can meet her separately for lunch. But I would really like to keep them as "couple" friends too. My husband wants me to suggest that they get a sitter. They both have advanced degrees and have excellent careers, so they can afford a sitter. However, I don't really know how to suggest that they hire a baby sitter so we can have an adult conversation.--Unsure

DEAR UNSURE: It might not be realistic for you to keep these people as "couple" friends, because they aren't a couple -- they're a family, and their practice is to include their daughter in adult events.

It doesn't matter how educated they are or whether they can afford a sitter. Some families simply don't leave their child at home and more or less submerge their individuality for 15-20 years while they pour everything they have into their children.

This can be especially true with career couples who don't spend a lot of time with their kids during the day.

If your friends are in this category, suggesting they leave their child with a sitter will be like suggesting they leave her in the car with the window cracked.

If this is the case, you should accept this child as part of a package deal. And once in a while, this might be completely enjoyable for all of you.

Otherwise, ask, "Do you ever leave 'Lucy' with a sitter? We enjoy her but we would also love to go out with just the two of you."