Which shoes is he step­ping into?

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - Ask Amy Amy’s col­umn ap­pears seven days a week at wash­ing­ton­post.com/ ad­vice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribpub.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611. © 2015 by the Chicago Tri­bune Con­fused in Ge­or­gia A

Dear Amy: I mar­ried later in life. My wife has a daugh­ter, “Jenny,” from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage. Jenny was in her 20s when I mar­ried her mother, and, as such, she never lived with us. Jenny never calls me her step­fa­ther but in­tro­duces me as her “mother’s hus­band.”

Jenny is now mar­ried to “David,” and they have a daugh­ter, “Ariel.” Am I David’s fa­ther-in-law, step-fa­ther-in-law or what? Am I Ariel’s grand­fa­ther, step-grand­fa­ther or what?

I hate to pre­sume some­thing, since Jenny doesn’t ac­knowl­edge me as her step­fa­ther.

Dear con­fused: Inmy view you are a step­fa­ther, a fa­ther-in-law and a grand­fa­ther. But these roles take some grow­ing into.

I hope you don’t take this too per­son­ally; this is ac­tu­ally a com­mon oc­cur­rence (and ques­tion) when peo­ple re­marry later in life and the chil­dren are grown and out of the house.

Your step­daugh­ter likely doesn’t think of you as a step­fa­ther be­cause you had no hand in rais­ing her. She may have only re­cently met you. This might not be a de­lib­er­ate slight — but more a re­flec­tion of the way she sees the re­la­tion­ship at this point.

If this ter­mi­nol­ogy in­ter­feres with your re­la­tion­ship (it sounds like it does), I hope you will be brave enough to say to her: “You don’t seem to see me as your step­dad, and I get that — but I hope you think of me as one of Ariel’s grand­fa­thers. Your mom and I hope to be a big part of her life.” She might not re­spond to you, but when you ex­press your­self openly, hon­estly, and with­out hurt or hos­til­ity— and don’t de­mand a re­sponse from her— you will prompt her to think about it.

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