### Upset Stepson Takes Husband on Vegas Bachelor Trip

Dear Amy: My spouse has been displaying signs of irritability, tension, and a short temper, often directing these negative emotions towards me and our 16-year-old child.

I confided in my 39-year-old stepson (who is my spouse’s child) about my concerns regarding my spouse’s stress levels and potential depression. I mentioned that our relationship was strained and suggested that it might be beneficial for our son to take his father away from the stress of the family business for a while. However, the getaway arranged by my stepson turned out to be a trip to Las Vegas involving drinking, gambling, and visits to strip clubs, further straining our marriage.

I am contemplating whether it would be appropriate to express to my stepson how deeply hurt I am by the outcome of the “bachelor trip” he organized, or if this experience has taught me a painful lesson.

— Bamboozled

Bamboozled: While your intentions were well-meaning, the mistake you made was divulging your marital issues to your spouse’s son. While it’s understandable to share concerns about your spouse’s well-being, involving children, regardless of their age, in personal relationship matters between parents can be complicated. This knowledge can create divisions in loyalties or, as in your case, lead a son to side with and enable his father. Therefore, it was unrealistic to expect a different outcome when the son opted for a Vegas trip instead of a more relaxing retreat.

It is evident that your husband is unhappy and not treating you and your son well. It is essential for both of you to seek marriage counseling promptly. While counseling may not always mend relationships, it fosters communication and provides avenues for behavioral changes. In some cases, counseling sessions can uncover deep-rooted issues that may lead couples to consider separation.

My intuition suggests that your husband may be contemplating leaving the marriage, using his negative behavior towards you as a cowardly—albeit common—means of shifting his unhappiness onto family members.

Dear Amy: I am a stay-at-home mother to a 9-year-old daughter who is generally well-behaved and delightful. As an only child, I make an effort to expose her to various experiences with other children. We have a unique “attic” room in our house with low-sloping ceilings, which we have transformed into a play area and storage space for suitcases and bedding.

Recently, we hosted a playdate for “Sophie,” during which I set up the playroom with craft supplies and snacks. The girls seemed to have a wonderful time throughout the afternoon. However, upon returning to the room after taking Sophie home, I was shocked to find it in disarray, with suitcases open, bedding scattered, and food strewn about. This behavior is completely out of character for our daughter.

I am now unsure whether I should contact Sophie’s mother to address her daughter’s destructive behavior or reconsider inviting Sophie over in the future. What is your advice on this situation?

— Frustrated Mom

Frustrated: It is important never to leave two 9-year-olds unsupervised for an extended period in a room filled with enticing items, as their imaginations can lead to mischief and chaos. While one child may not exhibit such behavior, the dynamic changes when two children collaborate, creating their own world of disorder and fun.

To prevent such incidents in the future, consider keeping snacks out of the playroom. This way, you can periodically check in on the children and invite them to the kitchen for a break, allowing you to monitor their activities and intervene if necessary.

While “Sophie” may have influenced the chaos, it is possible that your daughter also played a role, perhaps testing her boundaries or seeking attention. It is advisable for your daughter to participate in the cleanup process as part of her hosting responsibilities.

Dear Amy: In response to the letter from “Stressed,” a divorced mother who was uncomfortable with her ex-husband attending events on her designated custody days, I appreciated your insight and would like to emphasize one point: the children did not undergo a divorce; it was the parents who went through that experience.

— Regular Reader

© 2024 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.