Which shoes is he stepping into?
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.