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Bar mitzvah brings out the worst in ex-spouses

DEAR AMY: My ex-wife and I haven't been together for almost seven years, but only recently can we peacefully co-parent our twin boys. My anger at her was due to her infidelity during the last year of our 10 years together. I am not sure why she was angry (more like scorn) at me, except for catching her infidelity and then leaving her. Our twins' bar mitzvahs are coming up. While we are jointly planning a Saturday afternoon lunch after the service in temple, she is hosting a brunch at a country club on the following Sunday morning for 125 guests. She initially invited me to the Sunday brunch, but has now rescinded my invitation, saying I "would change the dynamics." I intend to ask her to reconsider her decision. What can I do, or say, to change her mind so that I am a part of the most important and memorable day in our twins' lives?

Torn by Scorn

DEAR TORN: You are jointly hosting the kids' celebration, right after the ceremony. So must you attend every bar mitzvah-related event? I agree it would be nicest if your ex included you. But the most important day in your kids' lives (so far) is their bar mitzvah day -- not the following Sunday.

Do not put your kids in the middle of this. They will have to miss you on this day and deal with their disappointment. You could lessen their disappointment if you accepted your ex's choice and didn't make too big a deal out of it.

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.

Confused in Georgia

DEAR CONFUSED: In my 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. This might not be a deliberate slight -- but more a reflection of the way she sees the relationship at this point.

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