DEAR AMY: My dad and stepmom of 10 years recently announced they are getting a divorce. I heard about the divorce from my father a few weeks ago and have not seen my stepmother since he told me. My husband and I are being supportive to my father, but I feel unsure about what to do in regards to my stepmom. I'm torn between sending an email letting her know I wish her the best and that I will cherish the time we had together, and feeling like an email isn't "enough" for someone who had become a big part of our family. I know some sort of closure is needed but I am unsure of how to go about it. Any advice?
DEAR CONFUSED: Your father is the one seeking closure. You don't have to.
Unless the break-up is particularly angry or the result of abuse, you should not have to close the book on your own relationship with your stepmother. The relationship will definitely change, but you are an adult, and if you would like to maintain a friendship with her, then you should.
This person has been a close family member. She has likely witnessed important events in your life. She may have worked very hard to form a relationship with you.
So yes, you should email her (or write her a note) to let her know that you are grateful for her presence in your life. Tell her you are sorry she and your father are going through this challenging experience. Share a couple of important memories you have of her. And extend your hand in friendship moving forward, if you are inclined.
DEAR AMY: My daughter has just given birth to her third daughter. She currently has four children: Two daughters, ages 6 and 4, a 2-year-old boy and the new baby girl. My question is regarding my 4-year-old granddaughter. Since birth, she has been dressed identically as her older sister. She should be past the "terrible twos," but her behavior is abominable. She is constantly acting out, both physically and verbally. Her actions seem to be a plea for attention. Her older sister is quite accomplished for a 6-year-old. She plays piano, speaks English and Spanish, does ballet and does well in school, etc. The 4-year-old has been afforded the same opportunities and is age-appropriately proficient. Yet she is not a nice person. I am wondering if being constantly dressed as her older sister may make her feel that she is not an individual being but just a copy, and her bad behavior is her trying to express her individuality. Also, I'm worried that the new baby girl will become a similar problem if dressed identically as her older sisters. I haven't expressed my concerns to my daughter yet. I'm curious about your opinion. Should I speak up, or just hope things get better as the girls get older?
DEAR CONCERNED: You should definitely ask your daughter why she dresses her daughters identically — and listen to her logic. Understand that the parents have the right to make their own choices, and your best role is to occasionally offer up your own wisdom.
My own take on this is more about birth order than outfits. Four can be a tough age, especially if she is wedged between little-miss-perfect and a terrible-two toddler, and now there's an adorable new baby at home. This little girl might be feeling that life is very unfair just now.
Imagine how it would feel to just be mastering some of life's most important lessons, including picking up language, and how to control your body — and doing it behind a bilingual, piano-playing superstar.
Because of her age and birth order, and because all of the adults in her world are constantly comparing her to someone two years older, she will always be behind. Even you, her Grandpa, refer to her as "age-appropriately proficient." Ouch! Was there ever a more perfect damning with faint praise?
I hope you will take it upon yourself to be this child's champion. Yes, she is crying out to be seen. So see her. She wants and needs attention. So give it to her.
DEAR AMY: "Heartbroken in the Heartland" told a harrowing story of childhood abuse. Thank you for pointing him toward MaleSurvivor.org. I reached out to this organization over my own issues, and the fellowship helped me immeasurably.
DEAR GRATEFUL: Survivors benefit from connecting with other survivors. I'm happy this helped you.