At Singlemommyhood.com, Dr. Leah describes a situation that might make many single parents nod and cringe at the same time. A single dad, who has been the primary caregiver of his kids for the past five years, fields a request from his broke ex-wife: "Will you please let me stay on your couch for Mothers Day?"
There's more to the story, of course. A year earlier, his ex -- with whom he used to share custody -- got into major financial trouble. "She lost her job and stopped contributing to health insurance, day care, etc.," Dr. Leah writes. "Then, she announced that she was going to live with her parents -- in another state -- to get back on her feet." But her parents have kicked her out, and she says she can't afford a hotel as well as airfare.
The single dad is torn; he wants to do the right thing, he wants to make sure his kids spend time with their mom, but he's wondering where the boundaries are -- and what the ramifications of her staying over could be. Would the kids be confused about Mommy being on the couch? Is he supposed to stick around while she's there? If he says yes and plays host, what might she ask for next?
Personally, I think the dad should let his ex-wife stay at his home for the weekend. Sure, it'll be awkward (his girlfriend is likely to feel pretty uncomfortable) but the bottom line is that spending time with their mom is in his kids' best interests, and that outweighs everything else -- except for their safety. He could offer to split the cost of a hotel room, but given that his ex's parents have kicked her out and she's struggling to pay her own rent, his home may be the safest place to host a visit.
Parents, what do you think? Does a single parent owe it to his or her kids to facilitate their visit with their other parent -- or simply to not impede it?
Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at email@example.com. April is Autism Awareness Month; you can read her posts about autism here.