Dear Abby: To wife’s chagrin, he sees his kids at ex’s home

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DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced father who has recently remarried. I have parenting time with my children one weeknight and every other weekend.

My children have told me that during the week they prefer doing their homework at their mother’s home. They say that by the time I pick them up, prepare dinner and they start their homework, it’s already time to return to their mother’s. They are at ages where homework assignments can take several hours.

My ex is OK with me spending time with them at her home. She uses the time to run errands and do other things she may not have time for during the week. When there’s no school, I bring the kids to our house. All weekend parenting time takes place at my home.

The problem is, my present wife can’t stand that I spend time with my children at my ex’s home. She doesn’t understand why I won’t bring them here. I feel there’s ample opportunity on the weekends for my kids to be at our house and for her to build a relationship with them.

Academics are crucial at this point in their lives. So — do I disrupt their homework to accommodate my wife? Or should I continue the arrangement that my kids, my former wife and I have established? — PARENTING TIME IN NEBRASKA

DEAR PARENTING TIME: It appears you have married a woman who is insecure. Your children’s reasons for wanting to stay at their mother’s during the week seem valid. You didn’t mention how long you and wife No. 2 have been married, but if it’s a brand-new marriage, point out that during school breaks and summer vacation she will have the midweek time to bond with your children that she’s craving.

DEAR ABBY: My employer hosted a professional development workshop on workplace etiquette and conduct related to gender and personal identity. The facilitator told us to make sure we always use the gender pronoun preferred by the person we are talking to or about. But she didn’t give any guidance about how to know what those pronouns are if it’s not clear from someone’s outward appearance. Additionally, I have learned I’m not very good at guessing.

Is there a polite way to ask someone if they prefer to be called he or she? What about people who don’t use either?

It seems like there’s a lot of opportunity to offend someone. I’d hate to upset anyone by using the wrong pronoun, but I also don’t want to admit to the person that I can’t tell if he or she is a man or woman. It’s like walking in a minefield. — WHAT’S RIGHT?

DEAR WHAT’S RIGHT: This is such new territory, it may take a while for the general public to adjust. However, the person’s name should be a clue about which gender he or she identifies with.

While I wouldn’t recommend asking what gender the person is, it wouldn’t be inappropriate to use the word “they” when speaking about the person because that pronoun is being used more in the singular.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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