D ear Amy: My boyfriend and I have been together for 12 years and have a 9-year-old child.
My boyfriend has three kids from a previous relationship. His ex also had another child a few months younger than mine (from a one-night stand).
Naturally that child thinks my boyfriend is its father and calls him “Dad.”
My boyfriend and his family provide for this child financially just as they do for his biological children. No one has ever mentioned or explained this to the child.
I can’t help but resent my boyfriend for claiming this child, and he has also made it clear that he doesn’t want any more children because he has “five” already.
When is the appropriate time or age to tell this child the truth? Or am I being selfish, since my boyfriend is the only father the child knows?
– Truth Hurts
Dear Hurts: You are being selfish. Your boyfriend sounds like a stand-up guy – you should take pride in his choice.
I believe all children should be told the truth about their biological parentage as soon as they are able to understand the concept (somewhere around age 5), but this is not your job; it is the child’s parents’ duty to do this. In this case, the child’s parents are his/her mother and the man who is the true “dad” – the man who accepts, helps to support and presumably loves the child.
Perhaps you have explained to your own child why his/her parents aren’t married. Children have the right to know the unique truths about their families.
Your guy’s choice not to have more children than he can support is wise and ethical. You have been forced into this unusual family structure but you should accept this unique challenge and support your partner’s decision.
Dear Amy: Perhaps you can advise me on whether I am too hung up on etiquette and social rules.
A bride-to-be is requesting a shower with invitations stating that monetary gifts toward their honeymoon are desired. Absolutely no other gifts.
The couple are well-compensated individuals with parents who are paying for the wedding. This sounds supremely tacky to me and low-class. What do you think?
– Hoping For No Invitation
Dear Hoping: I don’t like to think of anything as either “high-class” or “low-class,” but this practice is becoming more common (it is still considered “declasse” to mention gifts on an invitation, however).
Couples see asking for honeymoon money as similar to registering for gifts. Thoughtful couples set up “honeymoon registries” where you can select specific experiences for them, such as “coffee and beignets along the Mississippi.” If this is what they want, then why not take the money you would have spent on a material gift and contribute toward giving the couple an experience they will appreciate and remember?
Of course, because you object to this so strongly, you can easily opt out by not accepting the shower invitation if it comes.
Dear Amy: You missed something big in your advice to “Concerned Wife,” the newlywed who fears her husband is a thief. She urgently needs to separate her finances and assets from his, if necessary setting up accounts she can hide from him. And she needs to get out, fast, because one day her husband’s actions will catch up to him, and in the meantime he will wreak havoc on her finances.
Many years ago, a member of my family was in a situation quite similar to the writer’s. She ignored the signs, stuck by her husband and did not protect herself financially. Eventually her husband was caught stealing from an employer, convicted of a felony and sent to prison. They divorced, but he had destroyed the family finances. It took her years to rebuild. She could have saved herself (and kids) years of heartache and financial disaster by protecting herself and getting out early. No one ever said, “I’m so glad I ignored my gut instincts!”
– Faithful Reader
Dear Faithful: Excellent advice. Thank you!