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Ask Amy: Stepparents are part of the family

Dear Amy: Growing up, my mother was never an integral part of my life. My father was more nurturing.

Dear Amy:

Growing up, my mother was never an integral part of my life. My father was more nurturing.

When I was 13, they divorced, and my siblings and I spent a lot of time at my father's house. The thought of being with my mother and her "boyfriend" turned my stomach. I rarely spoke to her.

Flash forward 12 years: My mother is married to her "boyfriend." My father is married to a widow, and I am married and have two children under age 4.

I forgave my mother, and she is now my best friend. We spend a lot of time together, both with and without her husband. Now my problem is my father's wife. She is always in the picture.

When he visits us, his wife always comes along and brings gifts for my children. She also gives them small gifts when we visit.

I would like to tell her the best gift she could give them is to find something else to do when we are around, so my children and I could have some quality time with my father.

I am insisting that my children call these stepparents by their first names, not a "grandparent" name, because I do not want my children to think they have six grandparents.

But now, my father's wife acts like a grandparent. My father tells me I am selfish and rude for wanting his wife to be in the background.

I'd like to ask her in a nice way to please give our family space. She has adult children, and maybe someday she will have her own grandchildren to spoil.

- Jessica

Dear Jessica: I have news for you: Your children do have six grandparents, and your attitude toward your parents' spouses is rude and selfish.

Your children are blessed with the best gift life can offer them: people to shower them with love and affection.

I assume that you were so hurt by your parents' behavior during your childhood that you are stuck in the emotions of adolescence. Your parents have every right to expect that you will fold their spouses into your family.

You can have your children call other adults whatever you like, but there is no nice way to tell your father's wife you'd prefer she stay in the background of their lives.