DEAR AMY: My 10-year-old daughter has a school-sponsored daddy/daughter dance coming up. The dance is "girl's choice" of escorts, and she has told me it is her year to take her stepfather. Ever since her mother and I got divorced seven years ago, her mother has done everything possible to convince our children that I am replaceable, including pressuring our daughter to go to this dance with her stepfather rather than me. My ex and I share custody of our two daughters (the other is 17). I only go to this dance if my custody overlaps with the Friday of the dance. It has overlapped for the past several years, and it does this year, too. I was expecting to attend this year, just as I have in the past. Amy, this is our second-to-last year for this dance. After that, it's middle school. Should I take the high road here and support her choice, even though I know it is being made under duress? Or is there a way I can let her know I really want to take her without putting pressure on her? Should I volunteer at the dance so we can at least have one dance together? I usually try to stay above their mom's hateful behavior toward me, but this really hurts.
Dad in Turmoil
DEAR DAD: Yes, take the high road. Regardless of your ex-wife's attitude toward you, your daughter does have a stepfather, and you should respect that he is one of her parents.
He is not her primary dad — you are. But if he is good to her and if she is fond of him, then you should actually be brave enough to encourage this relationship. The more supportive and engaged men she has in her corner, the stronger and more confident she will be in her own relationships. Having dads around is great for any kid's self-esteem.
Given how attached you are to this event, you can imagine that it was hard for her to convey her decision to you. Respect it.
You have managed to make this sweet dance all about you and an endorsement of your relationship. But it isn't.
No, do not volunteer to chaperon. Your watchful presence could make this already formidable challenge unbearable for her.
Tell your daughter to have a good time, and look forward to next year.
DEAR AMY: I have a conundrum that will eventually affect others as DNA testing becomes more prevalent. I am reaching an end-stage of life. I have multiple children and grandchildren who are adults. Many years ago, I became aware through a drunken confession that my wife, now deceased, had an affair with a man we knew at that time. She became pregnant and bore a child who could have been the child of the other man or my child. From appearances alone, I suspect the other man is the father. I feel certain that if I am not the father, sometime in the future DNA testing will reveal that fact. I've always treated this child as my own, therefore the truth may be upsetting to many of my family. Should I broach this matter with my child now, while I can supply lots of information and reassurances, or let the future happen as it may?
DEAR WONDERING: You should lovingly tell your adult child the truth. Assure them that they are and always will be your child, and that you adore and love them as only a father can.
Give them plenty of space and time to process this information.
I think there is some likelihood that this child of yours may have perceived differences with siblings over the years, and wondered where these differences originated. Encourage your child to pursue this as much — or as little — as they choose, and reassure them that you are there every step of the way. The genetic information alone would probably make this worth pursuing.
DEAR AMY: "Real Mother" was still upset that her son confused her for his mother-in-law years ago while emerging from anesthesia. Ten years ago in college, my friend had to be put under for an emergency operation. When he awoke, he asked me, "Tiana, I knew you were with me. Will you marry me?" My name's John. I later joked with him that he really should have a ring with him next time he proposes. It's much more fun than holding a grudge!
DEAR LAUGHING: You'll always be Tiana to me.