ShareThis Page
More Lifestyles

Widower's daughter still misses mom, but shouldn't punish stepmom

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, 1:33 a.m.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My husband is a widower with three kids. His youngest daughter, “Danielle,” is getting married. My two stepsons have been much more welcoming to me since I entered the family than Danielle has. I approached this by being loving to Danielle but non-intrusive, and hoping she will come around. I never expect to replace her mother, but I do hope we can be friends. At best, she is polite to me.

Throughout wedding planning, Danielle hasn’t been any different and I didn’t really expect her to be.

Recently she had some seating charts out. Danielle wants her father in the front row during the ceremony, with an empty seat next to him in honor of her mother. I am asked to sit wherever I want on the bride’s side beyond the first row. During the dinner, I am not seated with my husband or the immediate family, who are all sitting together.

I am considering asking my husband to ask Danielle to reconsider. I haven’t yet because I wanted to see if I would settle and not care as much.

— I Still Care

The kindest interpretation I can reach for is that Danielle is still grieving her mother significantly. Life milestones without Mom would only make her feel only more raw and emotional.

This doesn’t mean she can mistreat you. I just point it out because she might be blind to her rudeness, and even feel justified. Can’t punch fate for taking her mother, right? But she can take all kinds of anger out on you.

And her grief will tell her, “My mother belongs next to Dad at my wedding! Stepmom has a lot of nerve.”

It’s the worldview of a 5-year-old, but hardly rare.

Your pain is valid, too — plus you have common decency on your side, so, yes, talk to your husband. Just don’t minimize her pain when you do it; her actions are the problem, not her feelings.

So, with compassion blazing: “The seating chart is a shrine to her mother. I feel for her. But I don’t appreciate being banished and humiliated just to make it happen. I think any intervention will be better coming from you.”

Thoughts from the congregation:

I do agree the stepdaughter is not treating her fairly. But I wonder if the better long-term play here is to abide by Danielle’s wishes. It requires nothing other than swallowing your pride. It’s not fair, but you’re dealing with someone working through intense ongoing pain. Perhaps this is just a gift you can provide to her.

— Wondering

I just cannot imagine not seating the couple together. That is just reprehensible. It is … unbelievable, actually. Dad should ABSOLUTELY say something. If Danielle wants an empty seat for her mom — I get that — then allow stepmom on the other side.

— Flabbergasted

The husband-to-be should have stepped up here. The father can also say: “Honey, I know you must be missing your mom terribly. Seating your stepmother in Siberia isn’t really a way to honor your mom, and I don’t think it’s something your mother would have done in your place. It’s also hurtful to me to not be able to sit with my wife.

— Anonymous

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me