1/3/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

In this edition of “Ask Amy,” advice columnist Amy Dickinson addresses a father-in-law whose daughters-in-law simply will not call him by his first name or “Dad.” Does he have a right to be upset at this issue of names for in-laws?

Dear Amy:

This little thing has nagged me for many years.

My son has had two marriages … both of his wives have never felt comfortable calling me “Dad,” or by my first name. Instead, they have called me “Grampa” in text messages, and even when we’re together.

Or, when the grandkids are not around, my daughter-in-law might say, “Oh, what your Dad said was funny” – never using my name!

My son has been married to his current wife for 10 years now.

What happened today was the last straw: In a group text message with my wife and me, our two kids and their spouses, the daughter-in-law wrote: “Thanks Grampa and Gramma for babysitting for us!”

I just wanted to fire back “You’re welcome, Mother of the Grandkids!”

Why is this bothering me so much? My wife, who also is addressed this way, doesn’t think it is a big deal.

I have mentioned it off-handedly to my son, but that has made no difference.

Otherwise, I have a great relationship with her. Would it be OK for me to talk to her and say, “When the kids are not around, can you please call me by my first name, or “Dad?”

I really do not want this to go on another 10 years!

Annoyed at Names for In-Laws in Florida

Dear Annoyed at Names for In-Laws:

I know of younger generation in-laws who never address their elder parents-in-law by any specific name, because they’ve never had any direction from the elder and are too timid to ask.

Many people don’t feel comfortable calling their in-laws “Mom and Dad,” because they already have parents they address this way.

When the grandchildren come along, the elder finally has a real designation: “Grandpa.”

You don’t mention how your son addresses his parents-in-law (if he has them). This might provide some insight.

My point is that your daughter-in-law won’t know that this bothers you if you aren’t brave enough to gently tell her.

So, you say, “This might sound like a minor thing, but would you mind calling me by my first name? I am cool being “Grandpa” when we’re with the kids or referring to the kids, but otherwise I’d love it if you would just call me ‘Dave.’ Are you OK with that?”

She might be relieved to know your preference.

More on family relationships: “Brothers, Sisters, Strangers: Sibling Estrangement and the Road to Reconciliation”

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from names for in-laws to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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