Q: My husband's ex-wife always guilt-trips her daughter into going all out for her on her birthday and on Mother's Day. My stepdaughter gets a very small allowance, so her dad is the one who has to pay. I think this is his ex-wife's way of sticking it to my husband, above and beyond the hefty child support and alimony she already gets. I want to put a stop to this, but I don't want to be a wicked stepmother. Please respond quickly. I overhead my stepdaughter tell my husband that her mother wants a certain Michael Kors watch, and the thought of that going on the credit card we both pay for makes me want to scream.
Mia: Buy a pretty but inexpensive picture frame and put a photo of your stepdaughter in it. Also, pick up some arts and craft supplies so your stepdaughter can create a beautiful handmade card for her mother. If your stepdaughter protests, which she might since she's used to dropping money like it's hot, explain to her that your finances are limited. Help your stepdaughter wrap her gift beautifully and make sure she has it with her when she goes to her mother's house on Mother's Day. If she returns with tales of how her mother complained, suggest she get a part-time job, if she's old enough, or explain to her mother that she doesn't have any money.
Steve: This can be a teachable moment for your stepdaughter: Whatever she buys for her mom must come from her allowance. Learning to live within your means is a lesson that will serve her well through life.
Q: When I was growing up in the early 1980s, I had the pleasure of knowing this cute little hippie Jimi Hendrix fan. We were great friends. About three times in the past 30 years our paths have crossed and we exchanged pleasantries. However two weeks ago, at a Rod Stewart concert, we crossed paths again and danced together. Since then I feel transformed. We talk and it feels like torture when we spend evenings together because the attraction is so strong. My concern is that if we move to the next level, will that affect our great friendship?
Steve: You bet. Romance is friendship to the 10th power. It means baring your soul, giving your full trust and risking rejection and humiliation. Still, you can't beat the excitement, not knowing if you'll get caught in "Crosstown Traffic" or wind up in "Electric Ladyland."
Mia: Think of the torture you'll feel if she winds up with another guy. Take a chance. Move in for a kiss and see where things go.