DEAR AMY: My daughter and son-in-law are expecting their first child. My husband has a granddaughter, but this will be my first grandchild. My husband and I have been together for more than 16 years and have helped raise each other’s children. 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 AMY: Our nephew is getting married next year and the bride’s family is planning a destination wedding on a Tuesday in Texas. The reception will be at their home that Sunday in Colorado. We do not live near either location. The challenge is that we have to travel to both the wedding and the reception in the same week. Flights, car rentals and hotels will be needed for both. The cost is honestly less of an issue than the logistics in general and the need to take so much time off of work. We are very happy for them but I am looking for a gentle way to say we are thrilled to come to one or the other, but won’t be planning to make both. The bride’s mother is very strong-willed and has already made sure to let us know that she is expecting us to attend both events. Any thoughts or should we just try to be a good aunt and uncle and try to make it work?
Challenging Wedding Plans
DEAR WEDDING PLANS: You should contact the marrying couple (not the bride’s mother) to tell them that you have to choose which event to attend. You needn’t overload them with explanations. Simply convey to them, “We are looking forward to celebrating your wedding with you, and appreciate you including us. Because we can’t go to both the wedding and the reception, which of the two events would you rather us attend? Let us know and we’ll make our plans right away.”
DEAR AMY: I am a supervisor in Adult Protective Services in Illinois. Your letter and response to “Feeling the Creepiness” was posted on the National Association of Protective Services Administrators (NAPSA) news list. I want to personally thank you for your accurate information, and also provide another resource when you receive a letter that sounds like it could be potential abuse, neglect or exploitation of a disabled adult or an elderly person. Concerned parties can contact NAPSA.org. The website has information about making a report anywhere in the country. Thank you again for being an advocate and champion of those voices we generally do not hear.
Holly Lichtman, LCSW
DEAR HOLLY: Thank you, and all of the caring and concerned people who do this important work.