I love his granddaughter and I don’t want her feelings to be hurt by announcing on social media that I am expecting my first grandchild. She is 8 years old and knows that I am her father’s stepmother, but I still don’t want to hurt her. Whenever she comes over, my husband and I both spoil her (like grandparents should), but she has always favored her “Papa.”
The problem for me is that I am much younger than my husband, and I didn’t want my social media friends to think that I was old enough to have an 8-year-old grandchild.
How can I say that I am expecting my first grandchild without making her feel like she doesn’t count?
— Grandma to Be
Dear Grandma: I appreciate your sensitivity about this situation, but I have news for you — you are already a “Grandma.” You have been one for the past eight years, and for you to try to find a way to deny this now that you are about to have a “real” grandchild in your life is all about your own vanity.
Your young granddaughter wouldn’t be the only person surprised (and possibly hurt) by the revelation that she isn’t your grandchild. Her parents, especially the parent you “helped to raise,” would likely be quite wounded.
I could also venture a guess that the reason your granddaughter has always favored her “Papa” is because you are signaling to her in a variety of ways that she is a placeholder for the real grandchild who will someday come along and claim your heart.
I became a grandmother quite young — at least it seemed so at the time, because I wasn’t prepared for this life stage. But family comes to you in different ways and at different times, whether or not you’re ready (or “old enough”) for it.
And so now the thing to do is to take to social media to announce your joy at the birth of your second grandchild.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepfather’s grandson’s wedding is black-tie optional, and my stepfather’s children are renting him a tux. My mom, who is 90, thought she would wear a nice pants outfit with a dressy jacket, and is resistant to buying something new. She has been through a lot this year (treatment for lymphoma, cancer surgery, and she recently fell and broke her pelvis, so she is in a lot of pain).
I and my three sisters (my mom’s only children) live on the opposite coast, but we are now being pressured by the mother of the groom (my stepfather’s daughter) and my stepfather to see that she is outfitted appropriately -- not just for the wedding, but also for the rehearsal dinner (cocktail attire) and the wedding breakfast to be held the day after the wedding.
They have also expressed concerns about the shoes my mother prefers (very safe, comfortable, but not at all dressy). My sister even heard my stepfather tell her that if she doesn’t get something new to wear, she can stay home and not attend the wedding or other events.
My mother doesn’t stand up for herself, unfortunately. Two of us will be traveling to see her soon, and plan to take her shopping. My sister is even purchasing a few things for my mom that she will bring with her, in the hopes that maybe something will fit and work for this event.
Personally, I think it is extremely superficial of them to dictate what she wears (especially since the wedding is six months from now!). If it were me, I would just be thrilled they are both well enough to attend, regardless of how they are dressed.
Is my mother wrong to resist the request to buy something more formal? Or should the step-family back off?
GENTLE READER: What happened to the “optional” part?
While Miss Manners always advocates dressing properly for the occasion -- and generally abhors “optional,” as it just invites chaos -- the particulars of your mother’s dress seem to be unduly fixated upon here. There is certainly a lot of undue angst being put into this poor woman’s wardrobe that seemingly requires three separate outfits and uncomfortable, possibly dangerous, shoes.
If your mother can reasonably be jollied into the shopping expedition or accepts one of your sister’s choices for one new outfit, fine. But if not, please talk to your stepfather about “backing off.” Surely this cannot really be worth all of this fuss.
DEAR GOING: Marriages of convenience have been happening since the institution of marriage was invented. That said, however, this is a question you should address to a lawyer to make sure that if you decide to marry Brian, you'll be going to the chapel instead of going to the hoosegow for insurance fraud.
We have already been spending a lot of extra money to decorate a nursery. In addition, the delivery will be costly under our high-deductible health plan. Combined with the fact that my wife just retired from her teaching job, the expenses are starting to freak me out.
In light of this, what do you think of the idea of a push gift? Have you heard any good ideas for a low-cost but appropriate alternative? -- EXCITED FATHER-TO-BE
DEAR EXCITED: A push gift can be a piece of jewelry, your first "family vacation," a piece of electronic equipment for your wife or a piece of furniture for the nursery. Some couples prefer something less materialistic, such as help with baby care or money for the child's education.
DEAR NO TEES IN THE BAR: Get creative. You can develop a personal style that stays casual but is more dressed up than the average guy at your office. Look around. There’s bound to be someone who dresses a notch above the norm. You can also choose to dress up on occasion when you have after-work events. If somebody ribs you, tell them you have an event to attend and leave it at that. You can also bring a change of clothes to work and slip into your dress just before you head out. Most important is for you to feel confident in your appearance and clear that you can make personal choices that extend beyond the casual norm.
--AN AMERICAN ABROAD
DEAR AMERICAN ABROAD: Oh, wow. First and foremost, I'm so impressed by your ability to sustain a lie of this magnitude for over half a year. This was sort of a plot on Friends, but you're pulling it off in real life.
You've probably considered your options, but let's lay them out. You can spend your life hoping they never find out. You'll periodically make up facts about Tokyo and feign a familiarity with the Japanese language you do not actually possess. If your parents ever introduce you to a Japanese-speaking person, you will be sunk. This will be a lot of work and a lot of stress, probably for nothing; they'll almost certainly find out somehow, at some point. They'll be mad at you, and you'll fight, and they'll do whatever it is that they do when they get mad at you.
Or you can tell them and save yourself years of stress every time you pass a sushi restaurant. You'll have to have a lot of difficult conversations in your life, and you won't be able to get out of them by pretending to move to Japan. That can't work more than once or twice.
So: Should you tell them while you're still abroad in Dubai, or wait until you come home? My vote is to do it now, while you're still overseas and thus harder to yell at. (I'm afraid you are going to get yelled at. That can't be helped.) There's not much to say beyond, "Mom and Dad, I told you a stupid lie because I couldn't handle the thought of your getting mad at me, and it's gone on for too long, and I have to tell you the truth."
Tell them you're not in Tokyo, get yelled at, renew your contract, enjoy Dubai and the peaceful sleep of the honest, and learn to face your parents' wrath head on in the future. The good news: This has to be the maddest they'll ever get at you. After this, everything they get mad about will feel like nothing.
My problem is, she's extremely secretive about her past, especially the period between her divorce and our meeting. I have been open with her about my past, but when I ask about hers, she refuses to discuss it and says it has nothing to do with our relationship.
I have a feeling there may be something nasty she's hiding. I'm afraid I'm heading into a trap, but my love for her makes it tough to consider breaking up. Am I being too demanding? -- CONCERNED GUY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR CONCERNED GUY: If your intuition is screaming that your girlfriend's desire for a hasty marriage could spell trouble in the future, you should pay close attention to it. It is not "too demanding" to want to know what one's fiancee has been doing for the last seven years. Under no circumstances should you marry this woman without first talking to a lawyer, who I am sure will suggest doing a background check and/or drafting an ironclad prenuptial agreement.
Dear Abby: I recently met a 28-year-old father of three I~Rm interested in. He seems wonderful. He's a hard worker, takes care of his responsibilities and is an amazing father to his children. They~Rre all still very little, but they're great kids. The only thing that~Rs been on my mind lately is he has a lot of baggage. Those kids are from three different women. He gets along with all of them very well, to the point that they sometimes do stuff together with the children. They go out to places, or sometimes he invites them over to his place to swim in the pool. I understand that he has to maintain a healthy relationship with his exes for the sake of the children, but I never thought it would be this 'healthy.' I have never experienced something like this. I appreciate him being up front about everything, but I can't stop thinking about it. Am I overreacting?
Dear Three's Company: I don't think so. While I admire the man's devotion to his children -- not to mention his skilled diplomatic ability -- it does appear that he has a problem making a lasting commitment to a woman. Unless you would seriously consider joining this 'harem,' I urge you to religiously practice contraception. If you would like children in the future, it would be better to approach it with someone who isn't as marriage-phobic as this young man appears to be.
( Points to subject line )