Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have a 12-year-old daughter. Her biological father passed away when she was 2 years old. I got married when she was 5. He and I separated when she was 10. We're now divorced. He loves my daughter very much and has considered her his own child. He never formally adopted her, but he has seen her regularly, due to my cooperation. I never wanted to "punish" either of them by not allowing them to see each other. He calls and asks to take her to dinner or to do fun things during the day. This is great, but he does not help me financially. A huge part of me thinks he shouldn't have to. But I sometimes feel resentful that I am the one paying for school activities, birthdays and necessities, and he still gets to spend time with her whenever he wants without helping me. I've always wanted to be kind, and I can provide on my own, but this has become a nagging thought. I wish he would help me by offering to pay for things he knows about, such as school pictures. Or that he would give me a monthly amount, like child support. But then I feel bad for even thinking he should have to help. Am I wrong or should I talk to him about this?
DEAR RESENTFUL: If you want child support, then you should be prepared to further monetize your daughter's relationship with your ex-husband. I don't recommend it (and I don't think you would succeed).
It seems that you resent him for having a fun relationship with your daughter when you are left holding the bag. I understand your reaction, but this is what it means to be a parent. When you're a parent, sometimes it seems that everyone else is on the dance floor, while you are left to guard their purses.
You should offer your ex the opportunity to pay for school pictures or soccer cleats, but don't turn this into a fight over pennies.
DEAR AMY: Some of us are concerned about our friend, "Mr. Average Nice Guy." Mr. Nice Guy is settled into midlife with wife, kids, dog and a house. Nice Guy has in the distant past had problems with controlled substances. He has in the recent past been on prescription meds for depression. Nice Guy shows up at poker night with a sizable quantity of illicit drugs and then gets bent out of shape when nobody else wants to partake. We are put off by this behavior and have said so, but our concern seems to fall on deaf ears. He insists he just wants to blow off a little steam and he can't do that stuff at home. Is this a midlife crisis? Should we intervene further and if so, how? Should we disinvite him from future gatherings in the hopes he gets the message? Tattle to his wife? Mind our own business?
Just Playing Cards
DEAR JUST PLAYING: The host of your card games is within his rights to insist that no illegal drugs be brought into the home. It is also the right (and responsibility) of friends to say to another friend, "We're very worried about you. You seem to be backsliding. You need help." If he won't follow the simple and understandable ground rules laid down by the host, then yes -- he should be asked to come back only when he can respect the rules of the house.
You cannot stage a successful intervention on your own. Interventions are effective when they are planned with the help of a professional. If you notice that your friend's drug use, behavior, attitude or depression seems worse, then definitely let his wife know how worried you are.
DEAR AMY: I usually like your advice, but why would you advise "Distraught Mom" to send her slob of a daughter into the military? Is this the kind of person we want defending our freedom? I don't think so.
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: The military has helped countless young people find their way. I suggested it as an option for a young adult who lacked discipline and direction.