Dear Amy: My stepdaughter is in her late 30s and is getting married next year.
She has been in my life for the past 20 years. A few years ago she found her real father through the Internet. Honestly, we thought he was dead.
My wife has asked me to pay for half of the cost of the wedding dress. I asked who was walking her down the aisle. The response was her biological dad. He is also going to be sitting at the head table with us. This man ditched his family when my stepdaughter was 2 years old, due to drugs and crime. He never paid a cent of child support.
He is a complete deadbeat who still has no money to offer. But to ask me to pay for a dress and not have the right to walk down the aisle does not sit well with me. I believe it is wrong, and I said no.
I am also thinking of not attending this wedding because I hate uncomfortable situations. My wife feels we should forgive him, and the daughter is awestruck by him.
I am afraid she will get hurt down the road. I am a faithful Christian and am torn. What's your opinion on this matter?
— Acting foolish
Dear Foolish: Stepparents have many minefields to scramble across, but they can also be heroes to their families. This is a hero opportunity for you.
The most generous and unselfish gesture is to join with your wife as a family to help pay for the wedding dress, but I understand that you see this as linked to your participation (but notice that her mother is contributing and the bride hasn't invited her mother to walk her down the aisle either).
Walking a bride down the aisle is an honor that in my opinion is earned rather than conveyed because of biology. Your stepdaughter may feel differently (many people do). But it sounds as if you are dodging this uncomfortable situation by sulking and conveying your disappointment to your wife, not your stepdaughter.
The adult thing to do is to say to her, "I am hurt that you have not asked me to walk you down the aisle; this is an important moment for a guy. I have been very proud to be in your life for 20 years."
And then, regardless, attend the wedding and be gracious and generous. Facing this uncomfortable situation boldly and with grace is being a hero.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at email@example.com, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.