Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Mom pushes her obnoxious boyfriend on the family

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

My mother's boyfriend of seven years, "Steve," is not a horrible person, but he is ... difficult. He is a classic know-it-all, and regularly changes the subject mid-conversation to tell random stories about himself. My mother acts like his personal hype-man: "Oh, Steve is the best," about absolutely everything. The best driver, best at talking to people, best handyman, etc.

I think the constant compliments are an attempt at getting us to like him, but it's done the opposite: My sister and I are frustrated both by him and her behavior with him.

On top of this, my mother is incredibly defensive about any sort of critique; if you didn't care for her favorite food, for example, she would take it personally.

All of that is challenging, but not intolerable.

However, I have an 18-month-old and my sister has an 8-month-old. Our mother frequently refers to Steve as "Grandpa" -- except he's not their grandfather, and also not our father figure since we were adults when they met.


During a recent two-day visit, she called him Grandpa ("Give Grandpa a hug!" "Go say hi to Grandpa!") no fewer than 50 TIMES; that's where we stopped counting.

My son also has two living grandfathers and it feels disrespectful to them.

My sister hates it, but she handles it better. My husband cannot stand it either. Steve makes it clear he thinks I'm uptight and high-strung; in his defense, he's not totally wrong, because I am uptight and high-strung in his presence.

Is it wrong to want him no longer referred to as Grandpa? Is there a way to bring it up without upsetting anyone too much?


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