Originally Published: May 3, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I am writing because another Mother’s Day will soon be upon us and, once again, my grown stepchildren — who were grown and on their own when their parents divorced — will ignore me. Every year, they celebrate Mother’s Day without thinking of me at all. That wouldn’t hurt so much if I could write it off as just my being a stepparent — but every Father’s Day, they include their stepfather in the celebration.
Many other times, they share with their mother and stepfather whatever news they have — a new vehicle they bought, the name of their unborn baby, etc. Their father and I do eventually learn most news, but it’s usually long after the fact. We all get along, and there is absolutely no animosity at all among any of us; we love them, and we both love the former in-laws. All I ask is for them to treat their father as well as they treat their stepfather. I hope that they see themselves in this letter and do a gut check. Their father loves them very much, but he is accustomed to not being included, so he hides his pain from them. Since we married, he has leaned more on me, seeing as they don’t ever call him just to chat. I call my dad regularly, and my husband was astounded when he learned that. I hurt for him and for them because they have no idea how they hurt us, and we will never let them know.
Is it asking too much to be included in their news? We share our news with them and don’t leave them out, as far as I can tell. They are very family-oriented, just not with their dad. — Midwestern Stepmother Loving Them From the Outside
— The sentence that most struck me in your letter was this: “They have no idea how they hurt us, and we will never let them know.” Your husband hides his pain from them, so for all they know, he’s fine with talking only once in a while. They may even think he prefers it that way. This is the status quo they’re used to, and until you take the initiative to call more and speak up about your wish to be included, your stepchildren will continue in their current pattern. So shake up the routine. Call them often. Invite them to visit, and go visit them. Let them know how much you value the time together.
— This is in response to “Distracted by His Distraction,” who is bothered by her long-term partner’s wandering eyes whenever they’re out together. Maybe the only way her partner will get the message is if she does likewise -- sets her eyes and attention on a handsome man in the restaurant.— CR in New York
— Not a bad idea. I’m not normally an advocate of the eye-for-an-eye approach, but in this case, perhaps “Distracted” would do well to illustrate her point with an ogle for an ogle.
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