Testy About Takeout
Dear Annie: Both my adult daughter and her husband are employed. Since they do not cook, when my husband and I visit them, which is approximately four times a year, they send out for food and ask us to pay our share of the bill, or, on occasion, she will use my credit card to pay for the whole bill. When we go out to eat at a restaurant, I always pick up the check, which I feel is almost expected on their part.
Am I asking for too much by wanting them to entertain us when we visit them, as I have done for the past 20 years when they visit us? -- Lunch With a Bill
Dear Lunch With a Bill: When it comes to parents picking up the tab, sometimes old habits die hard. If you've been paying for meals since your adult daughter was a child, she probably doesn't think twice before passing you the check.
Excuses aside, it's bad manners to charge guests for their portion of a meal. Next time she tries to charge you for lunch, just say, "You take care of this one, and I'll treat us all to dinner tonight."
Dear Annie: I have been with my fiance for 15 years. She has two children from a previous relationship.
When I came into their lives, her son was 6 and her daughter had just turned 7. I almost immediately became a father figure to her children, as their father stopped all communication with them after the divorce.
I absolutely loved spending time with them, but I was 23 and had never been a father before. I made many, many mistakes and also developed a dependency on opiates that made me not such a good person at times.
Eventually, the children's father came back into his son's life but said he wanted nothing to do with my wife's daughter as he wasn't her real father. I was thrilled to be her father. I often thought of walking her down the aisle, being a grandpa to her children should she have any, etc.
As she got older, our relationship became strained. She developed new personality traits, and I struggled with addiction and didn't make her feel good about herself most of the time. I thought I was doing the right thing back then.
Eventually, I got sober, and she moved out and became a mother to an amazing little boy. Part of my recovery process is making amends to people I have hurt. I love her more than I can put into words, and her son is absolutely crazy about me and calls me "Grandpa." I have told her many times how sorry I am, how wrong I was and how proud I am of her for what she has done with her life. I want more than anything to have a relationship with her and be a grandpa to that little boy. She has put up quite a wall, though.
Is there anything I can do, or do I need to just make peace with having to let her go? Please help. -- Torn Apart in Illinois
Dear Torn Apart: Your stepdaughter probably expects that you'll let her down again or abandon her entirely, like her biological father did many years ago.
The proof is in the pudding. Instead of telling her again how sorry you are for your mistakes, let your apology shine through your actions. Plant your feet and hang tough. Show her that you've changed and you aren't going anywhere this time.
It might take time for her to come around, but be patient. One of the most important things we can do as parents is show up for our kids. When her wall eventually crumbles, she will realize that standing on the other side is the good-hearted and loving father she's always had.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.