Dear Margo: Old Children, New Wives

Should I try to bring my grandchildren together against my son’s wishes? Margo Howard’s advice

Old Children, New Wives

Dear Margo: I have a granddaughter, 20, with whom my son has had no contact for the past 17 years of her life! She is a college student and would make anyone proud as a daughter. The problem is, I got her together with her younger siblings, and now my son and daughter-in-law will not speak to me or let me see my younger grandchildren. I fear I may never see them again.

This is not the first time I have let them be together, and my son has known about it. What is so different now is what I can’t understand. The children do love one another. Was I wrong not to let my son know prior to getting them together? They are all my grandchildren. I now see my daughter-in-law as a person with her own interests. All my grandchildren are very close to me. Should I leave this alone and let them sort it out? –Thinking of My Grandchildren

Dear Think: I have no idea what caused the breach with your son and his eldest child, but a good guess would be that his present wife is No. 2, and she would just as soon not have any previous progeny around. I have seen this before, God knows.

Given the situation you describe (and a father who is capable of cutting off a 3-year-old), I would apologize (crossing your fingers behind your back) for having all the kids together, and ask what the problem with that was. If it is now his wish that they not be brought together under your auspices, then promise to see the younger ones separately from the college girl. When they are all older, they can make their own arrangements, and I’ll bet they will always share a bond. I hope this works out for you. –Margo, historically

When Nicknames Are Obnoxious

Dear Margo: My 27-year-old daughter is dating a nice 27-year-old man. They seem to be getting along well, and this could become more permanent. My problem is that the young man calls my husband (my daughter’s stepfather) “Buddy” every time we see them. My husband hates the casual reference. My daughter and I have both asked this young man to call my husband by his first name. He doesn’t see any disrespect in calling him Buddy and doesn’t plan to change. The boyfriend says he refers to everyone as Buddy (young and old) and not one other person has told him they didn’t like it. He says he’s just a friendly guy.

What’s that all about, and are we being old-fashioned? My husband doesn’t want to be around the boyfriend because of this, and it’s making it hard to develop a relationship with someone who could eventually be my son-in-law. –We All Have Names

Dear We: He may well be a friendly guy, but he is also a dim guy. Any young man who is requested to call someone by their proper name and refuses is passive-aggressive — or his gray matter is so limited that he cannot be bothered to remember names.

It may not seem like much, but I think this bodes ill for your daughter’s future with a man who 1) won’t accede to her stepfather’s request and 2) won’t honor her request. If your daughter does not see the warning signs here, tell her to prepare for a future with a man who will always do just as he pleases. He sounds like a jerk to me. In the meantime, ask your husband to go along with the “Buddy” business, if only because he’s the grownup. –Margo, appropriately


Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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54 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Elaine says:

    For LW#2: Simple solution is, next time the family gets together and the daughter’s boyfriend greets Dad with “Hey, Buddy,” Dad throws his arm around his shoulders and says “How ya doin’, asshole?”  When the boyfriend or the daughter reacts with shock, Dad says “That’s how my buddies and I greet each other. It’s an old guy thing. Wanna beer?”
    I guarantee “Buddy” will be retired in a hurry.

    • avatar Cindy Marek says:

      ROFL!!! I love it!

    • avatar Kriss says:

      don’t know why my reply didn’t show up.

      all it said was:  LOL.  The BF may be too lazy to remember people’s names and this may be an indication that he doesn’t have any plans to remain in the daughter’s life long enough to remember her step-dad’s name.

    • avatar Rapunzel says:

      What an excellent suggestion!

    • avatar Margo Howard says:

      Elaine — very funny, tho I’m not sure many girls’ father would be up for that. (But I could be living a polite fantasy.)

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        I realize not everyone will agree with this—but I’m all for fighting mind games with more mind games. I’d tell the son that I had cancer and that you’d really like to see him and his daughter reconcile before you die (and intimate that if they do NOT, he won’t receive a dime from your estate). If things go your way, have a prolonged “remission,” and no one will be the wiser.
        As far as “Buddy,”—jesus, chill out. You (and your daughter) could probably do FAR worse.

    • avatar Elizabeth L says:

      That was the first thought that came to mind.

  2. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #2: Your husband wants to totally shun this young man just because of being called “Buddy”? That’s ridiculously petty and if he continues taking that attitude, it could (and probably will) impair your relationship with your daughter (who is your husband’s STEPdaughter). I’d take the young man aside 1 more time and tell him CALL MY HUSBAND BY HIS FIRST NAME — I MEAN IT! Then let it go. *OR you both could “return the favor” and call him “Buddy.”*

    But if your husband indirectly punishes your daughter for her boyfriend, he’s also passive aggressive. Sounds like dealing with two little boys. >:-

    • avatar Kathy says:

      I wonder if this jerk calls his boss ‘Buddy’?  I think not.  If a person asks you to call them by a specific name, you should honor it.  The stepdad might be a bit passive agressive too, but he and his step-daughter did ask this twit to call him by his first name (at least he didn’t request Mr. X) politely and he refuses to do what is asked.     

    • avatar phanie says:

      *throws hands in the air* Heaven’s sakes!  Since she’s his STEPdaughter (your emphasis) that must mean that he has no paternal right to ask such a large favor from her boyfriend.  STEPfathers everywhere need to learn that just because they’ve stepped in as “acting” fathers, provided food, shelter, love, guidance, ect., they need to toe the line and know their place when some fool decides to be disrespectful.
      This reminds me, I need to call my STEPfather and order him to make me a sammich.  I’d ask my biological father to do it, except he’s been in and out of a drug-induced haze for forty years.

  3. avatar Kathy says:

    Elaine!  I love your comment.  What a great way to see how this ‘buddy’ guy reacts to that greating!  The guy sounds like a jerk and thank goodness he is only a boyfriend.

    LW#1 – I am sorry that your son is evidently whipped by wife #2 – I know a lot of people like that.  He had kids when you married him, those kids were there first and are just as important to the family fabric as yours.  I think it’s wonderful that a grandparent wants to see all his/her grandchildren and is fostering a bond between them.  You can never have enough people who love you in this world and wife #2 and LW#1’s son ought to learn how to ‘blend’ these kids together better – they are siblings!

    • avatar Kathy Wulff says:

      From the information given, I’m not sure it’s fair to blame wife #2 for the rift between father and daughter. The letter doesn’t say anything about the daughter’s mother or the circumstances surrounding her early years. It may have been the father’s choice to discontinue contact with his ex and his daughter (cold, I know) and maybe the grandmother should have stayed out of it.

      • avatar Legal Eagle says:

        I completely agree Kathy! It is terribly unfair to throw the second wife under the bus when we don’t know if she’s the cause of the estrangement or not. It could very well be that the FATHER cut off contact before he even married wife number 2 and wife number 2 has been asking for years that he be a good dad to his first child. We just don’t know what went on there so blaming the second wife is not fair.
        Also, the bigger issue here is that if the father has chosen to be estranged from daughter then that is his choice to make and his mother should not interfere with that. It’s a shame that he has done that, but it is not the grandmother’s place to get all the children together against the wishes of her son. They are his children, for better or for worse, and he can decide who he wants them to be around. Now, when the children are all grown that is another matter entirely, but until then she needs to leave it alone. It’s not her business.

      • avatar RL says:

        I totally disagree.  I don’t think the grandmother should have stayed out of it because that would be cold too and siblings have a right to know each other. Let’s hope he changes soon because his kids with his second wife will figure out what a lowlife he is sooner than he thinks; kids are smart.  My father abandoned me and if he hadn’t and had abandoned another one of his kids, that would end the relationship for me.  There simply is no excuse .

        • avatar Legal Eagle says:

          I agree that the siblings have a right to know each other, but I do not agree that the grandmother needs to be arranging these visits against the wishes of her son. I have had family members who had no idea what had gone on and why certain estrangements had occurred and they butted in and made the situation 1000 times worse. This happened not to me directly, but to my mother and it was just upsetting for everyone involved.
          In this case, we have heard only from the grandmother and we have no idea why this estrangement has occurred. That information could make all the difference.

  4. avatar D C says:

    The father should start calling the boyfriend “Biff” or something else equally stupid and see how HE likes it. 

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I’ve always thought that “Doofus” or that long-ago immortalized classic, “Meathead” were charming noms de guerre.
      As for people over-reacting, and being over-sensitive, it is extremely irritating to ask a person repeatedly to address you in a certain manner, and to have them blithely, and deliberately, refuse. Consider how infuriating it is as a woman to have a relative stranger, or your sister’s or BFF’s new boyfriend, or your boss refer to you as Babe, or Toots, or perhaps, Sugartits, instead of by your name, as you’ve requested so very often. Most women wouldn’t tolerate such behavior, even for a sister’s or best friend’s sake.
      Common courtesy and even (gasp!) respect hold true for everyone. The LW did not say that her husband would completely shun her daughter’s rather insistently rude and self-centered (“accept me as I am, ‘cuz I can’t be bothered to make an effort…Buddy”) boyfriend, she just said that he didn’t want to be around him. Deliberate rudeness can have that effect on a lot of people. Since he has been asked, and it does sound as if he was asked politely, by both the LW and his girlfriend to call the man by his name, and he is too determined to walk  (or stumble) to the beat of his own socially-impaired drummer to grant them such a small courtesy, I’d say he was being disrespectful, unbending, and self-serving toward not just the father, but his girlfriend as well.
      I’m not going to say that this is one of The Seven Warning Signs of a worthless mate…perhaps the fellow is simply very immature for his age. Or has that sense of entitlement and inflated self-worth that is increasingly common these days. But, when the young woman of the same age, who may be considering a more permanent arrangement with you, considers it a matter of importance serious enough to make a request of you that you call her father by his given name, and you refuse, I have to question your motives. Maybe you are that socially inept and childish, or maybe you’ve gotten very comfortable with your relationship, and have decided to assert yourself with your warts showing. Respect is as integral to a successful relationship as love…and to deny such a simple request from your significant other because you call everybody “Buddy” says something about you. That man isn’t everybody, he is her Father, whom she apparently loves and respects.
      Get with the program, Meathead.

      • avatar STACY SEARS says:

        I personally like “dingus”.  Well said Brianna

        • avatar Lunita says:

          I think I like “Meathead” the best. Agree, well said. I would really like to know this guy’s rationale for refusing both requests. Or, I guess what goes on in his mind when he decided to use the lame excuse that no one else has a problem with it. If my boyfriend was this disrespectful and inconsiderate it would be a major issue for me.

  5. avatar Susan JH says:

    Anyone who insists on calling you something when he has been repeatedly requested NOT to call you that is a complete dolt.  It doesn’t matter what he calls everyone else — if you don’t like it, you don’t like it.  I absolutely HATE to be called Sue, and anyone who insisted calling me Sue “because I call ALL my friends Sue if their name is Susan” would very quickly be invited not to call me anything any more — at all. 

    In the south, it’s common to hear people (mostly women) call others “hon” or “honey”, and even though I’m southern born and bred, I detest it coming from someone who doesn’t know me, particularly if they are younger than I am and “ma’am” would be a more polite option.  I had a coworker who was about 15 years younger than me who caused me to fall out of my chair when he called me “shoog” (short for “sugar”), and it stunned me so much, I was speechless (not my usual state).  The next time he saw me, he said, “Hey, shoog, can you show me how to use this fax machine?”  I said, “Sure, sweetbuns, I’ll be happy to help.”  He never “shooged” me again!  Definitely the passive/agressive approach, but it worked!  (Anybody ever see the Denny’s commercial where the different customers are “hon”, “sweetie” and “darlin'”?  I think of Mr. Sweetbuns every time I see it!)

    • avatar Jennifer juniper says:

      I’m an American – living in the UK – and I have a similar experience with people (more prevalent in the north) who call everyone ‘love’.  First time someone did it was a check out woman handing me a lunch sandwich.  On one hand, I could appreciate that it was a friendly thing to say, but ‘love’ just seemed (and still does) way too much.
      As for the ‘Buddy’ guy – it’s interesting how far the bar has been lowered, isn’t it?  I’m not that old (30s) and my default setting on this is to always refer to my elders and Mr/Mrs/Miss Surname.  Even when requested to use their first names, it still can feel awkward to me.

      • avatar phanie says:

        It feels awkward because you were raised right.  Kudos to your folks!  People are shocked when they see how polite my kids are; I was raised the same way.  It’s a shame that courtesy is a dying trait (and, evidently, a new form of insult.  Do you notice how some women are suddenly complaining when someone calls them “Ma’am”?)

        • avatar R.J.B. Reed says:

          People always claim that “courtesy is dying” because what is considered polite behavior changes as society changes.  The history of what is considered “good manners” is quite interesting.  Personally, I do not see why referring to me as Mrs. Reed is polite and referring to me as RJB is not.  They’re both my names.  I actually prefer the latter as the former sounds very stilted and former.  Sort of like using “thee” and “thou” in conversation.

      • avatar Phillip Koons says:

        I am around the same age and noticed that it also feels awkward to me if I refer to someone as Sir, maam, Mr. ,Mrs. Miss and they want me to refer to them by their first name.  For example, I’ve been with my partner for 7 years now and still refer to his parents as Mr and Mrs. blah blah (well not blah blah but you know what I mean).  Every time, his mom says call me so and so, I find that I struggle with it.  Just feels awkward and disrespectful.
        I didn’t really think much about it until last Thanksgiving when we decided to do a big family dinner with both of our families.  My sister kept referring to her as Mrs. blah blah and she joked to her about acting just like me.  My sister ended up telling her flat out that it felt odd to her and she meant it as a form of respect.  My dad chimed in about how he taught us both that we should respect others and he was glad that those lessons still thrived for us.

    • avatar Patty Foxall says:

      I did this to a guy at work who had a habit of calling me “sweetheart”.  (My fiance doesn’t even call me that!)  I started calling him “Cupcake” and I’ve never heard sweetheart again.    Sometimes the passive-aggressive way is best.  🙂

  6. avatar Lila says:

    For LW2, I would NOT “go along” with the “Buddy” name because I am the “adult,” as if a 27-year-old man is not.  If it’s obnoxious and grates, I don’t want to hear it, period.  If someone insists on calling me something I don’t want to be called, they are not welcome in my life.

    • avatar R.J.B. Reed says:

      Well, if the LW were to take your advice, the daughter may simply elect to stop visiting if her boyfriend was cut out of the LW’s life.  While I agree that the boyfriend’s behavior is rude, I hardly think that it’s worth such an extreme measure.

      • avatar Lila says:

        If my daughter did not want to take a little time to visit me solo, then I guess I would know where I stood with her; but I don’t think this situation would come to that.
        Both the daughter and the father have asked the BF to use the Dad’s name, but he still won’t do it, and justifies his action with “no one else seems to mind.”  That is neither reasonable nor respectful to either the daughter OR the father.  It’s just boorishness.
        If I were still a 27-year-old and my BF behaved this way, I would dump him.

  7. avatar Lila says:

    For LW1: I know of a similar situation.  The eldest was out-of-wedlock; several years later, the father married and had three more, and during that marriage, the first child was strictly off-limits and a sore point with the wife, and also with her paternal grandmother.  The eldest knew who her siblings were and would even see them at school, but her mother strictly forbade to say anything to them (not wanting problems with the father, child support, etc).  She had no contact with her father.
    Then the father got divorced and finally took an interest in his eldest, in her teen years.  The father eventually remarried and had four more, and all of his kids are in contact with each other.  Yet, STILL, the eldest is treated as something of an outsider, and is not included in many family events or informed about important things like serious family illnesses.  She has been made to feel very second-rate and she didn’t deserve that.  All of the adults’ negative feelings about her are a result of THEIR actions, not hers.  It’s really shameful.

  8. avatar Karin Smith says:

    LW2- When I was a little kid (4 or 5) and learned what my mom’s first name was, I tried calling her by that. She explained that, while it was her name, I should call her “Mommy” because it  was disrespectful to call her by her first name. I thought that was silly (after all, it WAS her name and everybody else used it!), so I persisted in calling her by her first name.
    She completely ignored me any time I used her first name (“Maryann, could I please have some milk?”), until finally, in complete frustration, I said, ‘Mom!’, and repeated my request. She responded immediately. I never called her by her first name again.
    Since your husband has already told the bf he doesn’t want to be called Buddy, he doesn’t need to respond when he’s called that; he should completely ignore any comments/questions directed to him by the bf whenever he says Buddy. It’s not passive-aggressive, it’s just driving home the point that “I don’t respond when I’m called by a name that I don’t like”. (I don’t turn around when I hear someone say, ‘Hey Dumbass!’, because that’s not a name I respond to!) When/if the bf actually uses an appropriate name, then your husband can respond. Behavioral conditioning works wonders!

  9. avatar Phillip Koons says:

    LW1: Seems like lots of missing info on this letter…like an abandoned 3 year old?  Second wife?  I dunno.
    LW2: Honestly, I think the father is overreacting.  Maybe even being overprotective and posturing as a result.  I find that I slip and call some people nicknames without realizing it (friends, etc.  I’d never do so to coworkers or other situations where I’m trying to keep some level of decorum).  It’s more or less a sign of my level of comfort or friendliness with them.  However….that being said, if anyone requested that I not call them by that, I would make every attempt not to (although it may still slip out rarely….old habits and all).  I think that’s the bigger issue with the boy.  It is a lack of respect to not accent to someone’s direct wishes when dealing with them.

  10. avatar Shannon R says:

    I am a 27 year old woman and I can say with absolute certainty that if someone I was dating was so cavalier about showing respect towards my parents that he refused to call my father by his name he wouldn’t last long enough to make a second bad impression.  This is a HUGE red flag.  It shows that he has no concern for anyone but himself and his preferences.  I can just see how a marraige with this gem would be.  Steve, why did the check bounce for the mortgage payment?  Oh, I know you told me we didn’t have the money, but I really wanted that motorcycle so I decided to get it.  Hey!  I know our baby is a week old but I’m going to go out drinking with the fellas a few nights a week, you can look after the kid by yourself right?

  11. avatar jtjunkie says:

    LW#2 – Wow, what an overreaction.  If he is an otherwise nice 27 year old man whose relationship with your daughter may become more permanent maybe you should get over it.  If that’s the worst thing about this guy that you have to complain about you’re lucky, your daughter could bring home someone much worse.

    • avatar Susan G says:

      Agree.  It’s ashamed the boyfriend doesn’t comply with the step-dad’s wishes. However  I wouldn’t go so far as to label the guy dim, passive-aggressive and a complete  write off. “Buddy” might be nothing more than an ingrained habit, particularly if he calls everyone buddy. It’s a trivial battle, and the plaintiffs might find more important issues about which to obsess.

      • avatar MissRere says:

        It is NOT a trivial battle.  It is a matter of RESPECT!!!  Small children are taught respect for their names
        and if a person does not acknowledge it, they are being disrespectful.  The BF is NOT respecting the
        generational gap. I cannot imagine calling my own REAL dad “Buddy” nor allowing anyone else to.
        By the way, I am 61.  We are not teaching manners nor insisting on RESPECT and the generations
        coming behind us are just plain CRASS.

        • avatar Susan G says:

          Interesting.  I’m a few weeks shy of being 60 myself and have yet to erupt on the subject the younger generation’s RESPECT.  Just don’t consider it an efficacious communication style.

  12. avatar NQ says:

    On the “buddy” thing – when I was a teenager I knew a young girl who had been in a serious car accident followed by a coma.  She had recovered pretty much completely but still had difficulties in certain areas of memory and language.
    In particular she had a hard time matching names to faces.  She could look at you, know WHO you were but struggled to come up with the word that was your name.  As a coping mechanism, she called everybody “Friend.”  As in, “Come play with me, friend!”
    It worked very well for her, kept the conversation flowing without putting a lot of pressure on her, while letting the addressee know that he/she was happily recognized even if she couldn’t get the name out.
    Now from the context I don’t think that “Buddy” has a brain issue – but he might, you never know.  He might not even know he has a problem.  So often the brain just finds ways to cope naturally and you don’t even realize it’s a workaround for something.  My dad was well into his 40s before he realized he was dyslexic and not “just dumb” or “unmotivated.”
    I guess my point is that it’s easy to assume we know exactly the reason why another person behaves the way they do, and to judge them for it, but there’s always possibilities we hadn’t considered.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Okay, but I sincerely doubt it. It interests me that people come up with the “mentally challenged” argument whenever an individual displays any indications of having a difficulty with cranial-rectal inversion syndrome. I am actually surprised that no one has suggested that Buddy-Boy has Asperger’s syndrome, or is on the Autism Spectrum. These seem to be favorite excuses for socially retarded behavior. I have an Aspie son, and know quite a few people on the Autism spectrum or with Asperger’s…and they can learn to be quite sensitive to other individual’s needs and requests…even if they can’t comprehend them. So can people with brain damage and other difficulties. Having a physical, neurological or mental issue is not an excuse to be rude, or to expect the world to bow down to you as a unique snowflake.
      I mentioned L#1 to R., my DH, and he stated, unequivocally, “The boyfriend is playing a penis game”. I asked for a bit of enlightenment, and he cheerfully explained that some men, of the immature, perhaps inadequate or short-changed variety (he said that the manner of the insufficiency wasn’t important), and therefore having a special need to prove their (often alleged) masculinity, play the Name Game. This involves referring to a man whom they feel the need to dominate in a way they perceive as common, belittling, and insignificant. For really small men, a woman’s much loved and respected father would certainly qualify. They feel that they have achieved victory, claimed The Prize, and staked their Claim when the other man bows down to their superior will by accepting his status as a little dog. I suppose it’s better than marking territory through urination, but it’s also ludicrous and the mark of a walking, talking hemorrhoid.
      This was the perspective of a man who does not play penis games, and never has, and who finds such things amusing, but the mark of a wretched human being. It’s something to think about. Why should calling your girlfriend’s father by his name be such a challenge? I understand those defending the young man’s right to disrespect his girlfriend, and ignore her simple request with respect to her father…after all, this is the 21st century, and The Me generation, and what’s in a name, after all?…but I don’t think I’d much like them.  No, not at all. If I was the young woman, I’d be carefully considering whether I wanted to continue a relationship with a 27 year old bundle of egocentrism who was willing to initiate a pissing contest with my father over issues of respect and common courtesy.

      • avatar Pam Fink says:

        I *had* to log into reply to your comment. I totally agree with what your DH said. Makes complete sense since the LW states that the BF has been told more than once to call the father by his first name.  (I personally call my MIL and FIL, “Mom and Dad”, and MY Mom is “Mommie”. I asked my MIL if she wanted to be call Mom or by her first name. “Mom” was fine…probably since she had no daughters, and having me call her “mom” tickles her pink. (I know it does for Dad…)
        I also agree with the “Just fine, asshole” response, though it might just cause the penis/name game to escalate.

  13. avatar M W says:

    I remember reading that Don Adams of the original 1960’s “Get Smart” TV series could not remember names. That was the reason that his boss was “Chief” and his wife was “Agent 99”. The story said that Don could not even remember his own wife’s name.
    If the BF is simply covering up, albeit clumsily, an inability to remember names, that’s one thing. If he is not, then he is being disrespectful to say the least. If he can’t do something as simple as call someone by the very reasonable name they are asked to call them by, then to me it’s a huge red flag.

  14. avatar martina says:

    I  did something similar to what Elaine suggested.  I worked in a plant office and one of the plant supervisors who was a man insisted on calling me “Woman”.  I explained that I didn’t appreciate it and he still continued.  So, I started calling him “Boy”.  Well, it didn’t take long before before he stopped calling me “Woman”.

    I have noticed as a society that the younger generation call everyone by their first names and it’s become awkward.  I really don’t want my friend of my daughter who is 17 calling me by my first name because I believe that I need to set that boundry of not being their friend but someone of authority (not that I can’t be friendly) but my daughter calls my friend and other people in church by her first names.  It was so much easier when we as children used titles and last names. 

    My mother tended to carry it too far -I remember when I was about 30 and we met up with one of her friends who I hadn’t yet met and her friend introduced herself by her first name and my mother right away said “oh not that’s Mrs. so and so.”  Of course at the time I was insulted that my mother didn’t think that I was adult enough at 30 to call her friends by their first name but now I just laugh when thinking about it.

  15. avatar Mandy McNalis says:

    For LW #2, I’d suggest telling your husband that when the boyfriend calls him, “Buddy,” reply with, “I’m not your buddy, guy.” (It’s a great exchange from Oceans Eleven that was later picked up and used on South Park)  Maybe it’ll get the point across, maybe not.

  16. avatar Froz Chosen says:

    I have a humorous ‘take’ on the “Buddy’ letter.

    My husband, who is polite, comes from a family who uses the first names of their respective in-laws. you call ‘your’ parent, ‘Mom or Dad’, but you can call your FIL/MIL, Joe or Ann, w/o showing disrespect.

    I was raised with the ‘call your parents, Mom/Dad, everyone else is Mr/Mrs X. You can call your in-laws “Mom X or Dad X if you want/ are comfortable.

    So, the 1st time I met my now FIL, I called him, MR x,-and was immediately corrected- “My name is Joe, not MR X.’ My future hubby was informed NOT to call my dad by his first name as the reaction would not be pleasant.

    Neither perpective in-law had met the other until our engagement, this was not delibrate, that’s just the way it was. (Both lived 70 miles apart, I met my spouse at college, he lived at home with his folks_Yes, he paid rent!!! ). On that day, my DAD ‘found out’, i was ‘allowed’ to call my Future FIL, by his given name, and I got the ‘look’ from Dad. (You know, the ‘I’m not going to embarass you now, but this WILL BE DISCUSSED LATER’ ‘look’). Fortunately My FIL, ‘saw the look’ and told DAD- ‘I told her to call me that.” (I love my FIL, ) My FIL’s FIL was also at the party, and of course, Joe called HIS FIL by his given name. Dad was okay with that, well, he WAS … until my husband called DAD, by DAD”S GIVEN NAME.

    It took him a moment to realize what had happened. Took him a while to get ‘used to’ being family, instead of ‘older unrelated person’. He’s fine now, all his DIL/SIL use his given name… but NONE of his ‘kids’ do. (All the grandkids call him ‘grandpa’ so no worries there,)

    Names mean a lot–   if BF can’t call Step Dad something other than ‘Buddy’, then daughter should drop him like a hot rock.

    Just MHO, though.

  17. avatar says:

    LW #2: Stepdad could say something like, “Oh, right…you’re Mary’s ‘current’ boyfriend.” Send the chill wind back to wence it came.

    I live in a similar situation. I have asked my husband REPEATEDLY over the years to use my name to no avail. He states that as I am the only one around, who else would he be talking to? He’s an only child, I’m an only child and we never had children. I live every day with the heartache of knowing my name isn’t special enough to bother with.


  18. avatar carol grzonka says:

    i agree with your advice margo, AS FAR AS IT GOES!!! her son put a 3 yr old out of his life. son had a new family. grandma got all the kids together. son was aware and NOT  expressly averse. now son is having problems with the situation and CUT HIS MOTHER OUT OF HIS LIFE.  do i have it right so far???  has he directed her about how many times she may breathe today.  grandma really doesn’t need to apologise because when she was doing this, he did not express to her not to do this.  she might need to promise not to do it again.

    a better way to handle it so she doesn’t have him using the kids as a bludgeon to con trol her, might be to check into applying for a court order for grandparent visitation. this would create a more formal situation where sonny couldn’t withhold her grandchildren if he wants another change in her behavior.  it might create a strained relationship for awhile, but i can’t imagine a MORE  strained relationship than having someone attempt to control me when they change horses in mis-stream.

  19. avatar A R says:

    Sigh. I’m sorry that your son disappointed you by dropping out of his first child’s life. Who knows why he did this as you don’t say. He moved on, started a life with another person and had more progeny. At the end of the day, you really should not have brought those children from two marriages together without the prior approval of the adults who raised them. In my opinion, you were flat wrong, and now you are paying the price of meddling. Is it fair? Maybe not, but you still meddled, and meddling causes the exact results you’ve seen. Try apologizing and offering to avoid hosting future reunions.
    Two thoughts: First, ANYTIME a person has been asked to stop using a certain name in favor of another, he should stop out of respect. If he doesn’t stop, he is being a jackass. Secondly, any young man who would presume to call a parent by any other name than ‘Mr. ____’ upon their first several meetings is a jackass. So, basically, your daughter has brought home a cute jackass. The best thing at this point is wait until he says “buddy” again to your husband, at which point your husband (not you or the daughter) replies, “My name is not ‘Buddy’. Listen up knucklehead: you can call me ‘Mr. ___’ or ‘Jim’, but I don’t answer to ‘Buddy’. I’m not a teenager, nor am I one of your friends. Clear enough for you?”

  20. avatar Lepidopter Phoenyx says:

    LW1 – the 20-year-old is free to associate with any adult she desires, regardless of her parents’ feelings on the subject.
    But any time you get minor children together with other adults, you need to run it by BOTH parents and make sure they aer BOTH okay with it. Sounds ike you left Mama out of the loop. If Daddy says it’s okay and Mama says it’s not, then it’s not. The “No” vote wins by default.
    LW2 – people should be called what they want to be called. If I “call everyone ‘Dude'” but you don’t like being called “Dude,” then I should not call you “Dude,” no matter how inoffenseive I personally think the term is or even if you’re the only person who objects to being called “Dude.” If you want to be called “Mr. Harrison,” then that’s what I should call you.  

  21. avatar MissRere says:

    RE: The grandmother…..ALL of these kids are HER blood and if the get together is at HER house,
    she can invite anyone she pleases.  I am a grandmother with only one son with one wife but I’ve
    still had problems with the grown son and his wife.  Fortunately, the wife is from another culture
    and does not use the grandchildren as pawns so I am not forbidden to see them.  SONS grown up
    to be overbearing to their moms.  You have to stand your ground.  If I had other sets of grandkids
    I would love each of them singularly and/or collectively.  Siblings should know of  each other so they
    don’t date each other. Enough said, this is shoving match between grown son and mom.