Loading...
BYH to the City of Greenville if they will install Hybrid Beacon lights at mid-block crosswalks. These crosswalks are...

Grandmother strives to fairly distribute gifts to grandkids from blended family

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Loading…

Carolyn Hax

Friday, June 29, 2018

Q My son-in-law has a 10-year-old daughter, “M,” from a previous relationship. He and my daughter also have a 5-year-old daughter, “L,” together. I have always been careful to treat both girls the same in terms of gifts, activities, special occasions, etc. I had a step-grandmother who made an obvious show of preferring her “real” grandchildren to us. I know how it feels.

Last year I offered to pay for both girls to participate in one extracurricular activity of their choice — dance, music, sports, etc. They both chose gymnastics lessons and have been enthusiastically participating ever since.

M also has a younger stepsister, “B,” in her mother’s family. M’s mother has decided that unless I can also provide this other sister, whom I’ve never met, with lessons, M can no longer participate because it isn’t fair to B.

I understand Mom’s point of view, I really do, which is why I found gymnastics lessons for M that were on the days she was living with her dad. Neither of these families can afford any special treats. I can, but I am retired and there are limits.

M’s father says he doesn’t care what her mother says, M will continue with the lessons as long as she wants to. I want to do the right thing for both L and M and, honestly, M has additional step- and half-siblings in her mother’s household and this obligation could be never-ending.

What is your advice? Not only for this situation but in the future? Summer camp, vacations, etc. — Limited

A I appreciate the mother’s concern for fairness, if not her grasp of it.

It’s also thoughtful of you to take such care not to repeat your step-grandmother’s mistakes.

And your son-in-law was right to take the responsibility for the decision on himself instead of letting you carry it, though “doesn’t care what her mother says” is a path that tends not to lead anywhere good.

You can legitimately change nothing in response to this new development. You are at arm’s length and managing your part with compassion and fairness, not to mention the autonomy that spending your own money affords you.

Given the complexities, costs, and the impressionable ages of these children, though, it might help for you to shift your approach to such gifts — ever so slightly. Instead of arranging the lessons yourself, figure out the cost in advance and make a gift of that money to your daughter and son-in-law. This takes you out of this family’s decisions entirely.

Assuming they’d want that, of course. Your involvement might provide your son-in-law cover for sibling M to have things sibling B doesn’t; if the gift comes from a third party who is related legally to M but utterly unrelated to B, then any expectation that B receive the same strains logic, no matter what B’s mother says.

B herself will be able to see this someday, and that’s the key to all of this — how B feels about herself and her opportunities. She’s likely too young now, but when she’s old enough to understand all the connections, there will be no direct familial connection between her and the source of a gift she did not receive. If the adults involved have compassion and boundaries — big “if,” alas — then the whole alphabet will be fine.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

October 21, 2018

BEAR GRASS — Earl Bailey has hung his printer’s apron up for the last time.

After almost 60 years of service with the Enterprise & Weekly Herald in Williamston, the 74-year-old former Linotype has retired.

Bailey has given almost three-quarters of his life to the art of…

1012-WE-FR-Earl3.jpg

October 21, 2018

I am looking for iconic North Carolina eateries for a new book.

The dictionary defines iconic as “widely recognized and well-established” or “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence.”

The iconic restaurants should be (1) widely known in North…

DGMartin.jpg

October 20, 2018

What's the difference, botanically, between a "reed" and a "cane"? I'm not sure I know: both of these are very old words that tend to refer to hollow-stemmed, grass-like plants. Here is a plant that seems to fit, and is, as well, a true member of the grass family.

It is native to southern Europe,…

Arundo_donax6.jpg

October 19, 2018

Certified Angus beef, appetizers, and hand-crafted sandwiches and salads are just a few reasons why people love Angus Grill in Winterville. Now you can be even more excited because they have opened a new location in Greenville at 201 S. Jarvis St. Conveniently located within walking distance to the…

20181010_124801.jpg

October 19, 2018

Director David Gordon Green got his start with art-house dramas but is perhaps best known for the baked humor of "Pineapple Express." So it's apt that, despite plenty of gore, his version of "Halloween," the latest sequel to John Carpenter's 1978 slasher film, sometimes feels like a horror movie…

FILM-HALLOWEEN-REVIEW-ADV18

October 19, 2018

Dancer Rebecca Colenda has leaped and twirled on stages across the globe, but this weekend it is her turn to come back to where it all began.

The Pitt County native will dance a principal role in “The Scarlet Cord” on Sunday at Winterville's Reimage Church. Colenda, 25, who had her…

101918goballet-4.jpg

October 17, 2018

Certified Angus beef, appetizers, and hand-crafted sandwiches and salads are just a few reasons why people love Angus Grill in Winterville. Now you can be even more excited because they have opened a new location in Greenville at 201 S. Jarvis St. Conveniently located within walking distance to the…

20181010_125153.jpg

October 17, 2018

Q My doctors wants me to try the Mediterranean diet. He said I could have some red meat. How much is some? KP, Winterville.

A We recently visited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s library and museum. I was intrigued by his physician’s diet prescription for the president in 1944. It…

KathyKolasa

October 17, 2018

Q My doctors wants me to try the Mediterranean diet. He said I could have some red meat. How much is some? KP, Winterville.

A We recently visited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s library and museum. I was intrigued by his physician’s diet prescription for the president in 1944. It…

Kolasa, Kathy

October 14, 2018

I was a proud Boy Scout and Scout leader but had lost touch with the program.

However, my youngest grandson’s excitement over having just been signed up for Cub Scouts happened to open a window on some truly monumental changes in the Scouting world. Like me, you may have missed them.

The…

Bob Garner
234 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 24
        Next Page»   Last Page»