Susan Deitz

DEAR SUSAN: My daughter (at my ex-wife's behest) has been using her stepfather's last name at school. I feel this situation is wrong, legally and morally. She has not been adopted by the stepfather; nor, as I understand it, is that possible without my consent, which I wouldn't give. The situation complicates the life of this 7-year-old, with three sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles. It seems as though my ex-wife has forgotten that I am still a large part of our daughter's life and am not going to forget my responsibility to her. When speaking with my former wife about anything concerning my daughter, my facts are either denied or dismissed. Picking up my daughter is becoming more and more difficult. Her stepfather is an avenging angel, warning me against upsetting his wife. Please share your thoughts, Susan.

--From the Single File blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Your mission is to nurture a strong bond with your daughter without causing her conflict and guilt about her mother and her mother's husband. It's a challenge, but with your deep love, it can and will come about. Remember that time is on your side. Your daughter will grow and appreciate your devotion more and more with the passing years. You will be part of her childhood, always there to comfort and explain. Being by her side at critical times in her life will prove to her the loyalty and pride you have for her. A good father who will never be replaced. But in the here and now, a dialogue with your attorney and then with your former wife could do wonders to clear the air -- and your worries.

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DEAR SUSAN:As the evolution of "mankind" progressed, men seemed to be left behind. I'm sure I speak for the minority of males, but some of us did evolve. Men need to understand that as times change, values should not. Women need courtship, need to feel special and wanted, and need to feel appreciated. Please believe that some men do accept, understand and take care of our responsibilities. Today's women work as hard as today's men. Can't we realize that if we mutually respect each other's viewpoint, communication has a chance of flourishing? From the --Single File blog

DEAR BLOGGER: You landed on the word that says it all: respect. Mutual respect can be the beginning of deep romance, caring beyond measure. Respectful relationships seem to go on because partners' true essence has its chance to surface.