Ask Amy: Do I have to give a gift to the baby of my ex-daughter-in-law?

Dear Amy: My son’s ex-wife, “Tammy,” recently had a baby with her new husband.

Tammy also has two children with my son.

I recently made slippers for my grandsons and sent the slippers to them.

I told my son about it, and now he’s asking me to make a pair of slippers for the new baby.

I don’t think I need to, as that baby is not my grandchild.

Should I go along with this, or is there a nice way to say that the child means nothing to me, so I’m not interested in doing it?

After all, the ex-wife is the one who left the marriage when she cheated on my son with her new husband.


– Curious Granny

Dear Granny: Hmmm. Let’s see. Is there a nice way to say, “This baby means nothing to me and so I’m not interested in doing anything for the child?”

I’ve called an imaginary conclave among all of the sages whose wisdom I trust the most, and all agree that your position and attitude about this baby is exclusionary and unkind.

This child is the sibling of your grandchildren. Your grandchildren must be encouraged and allowed to accept and love this child. Why? Because it is best for everyone.

Your son is obviously encouraging/forcing you to accept this baby as the sibling of your beloved grandchildren. Good for him. Acceptance on your part makes your son’s life easier and more peaceful. It helps to integrate all of the children into a sibling group.

If you want to give gifts only to your grandchildren, you should send these gifts to your son’s address, not to his ex-wife’s address.

Furthermore, you holding on to an angry attitude toward your son’s ex-wife leads to you passively punishing your grandchildren, who are her children. Let your son carry his own water. You should work much harder to maintain a neutral attitude toward her, and a loving attitude toward all of the children involved.

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Dear Amy: My husband and I have temporary custody of our 10-year-old granddaughter “Sophie” because her mother (our daughter) is currently in court-ordered rehab for her long-standing drug addiction. Our granddaughter’s father is not in the picture.

We believe our daughter is earnestly trying to recover from her addiction, but we have been to this particular party a few times and we are realistic about the fact that we might be raising our granddaughter more or less permanently.

Sophie is a great kid! We’re fairly youthful and healthy and honestly we’ve adjusted and are enjoying our experience of “re-parenting.”

An aunt gave Sophie the first Harry Potter book for Christmas, and she has really been enjoying it. She is glued to the book after school, and during dinner she catches us up on the plot.

During a call with her mother, Sophie related her excitement about the book.

Her mother contacted us and raised a lot of objections to her reading this book. Her points were sort of all over the place, but she acted offended and asked us to take the book away and choose “more appropriate” material for her daughter to read.

We want to respect her interest in this and we want to keep the communication open, and so we’re not sure how to respond. Should we give in?

– Concerned Muggles

Dear Muggles: Your daughter is trying to control you. This might be a sign that her recovery has hit a snag, or that she is frustrated and antsy. This issue could become a stand-in for her grief over losing in-person contact with her child.

I think you should respond calmly and honestly. Don’t let this become “a thing.”


Assure her that you will read the book with her concerns in mind and that while “Sophie” is with you you’ll be mindful of her mother’s concerns, but that because she is living with you, you will be the primary people to make these types of decisions.

Encourage her to stick with her program. Being in recovery is the best parenting choice she could possibly make.

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Dear Amy: “Confused Father” wrote to you because his current wife wants her stepchildren to call her “Mom.”

Thank you for pointing out that they currently have a mother who presumably they are attached to.

My bonus kids lost their mom unexpectedly two years ago.

While I know that I will never and should never hold that same place in their hearts, I am grateful to be a shoulder to lean on when they feel the need for a stepmom’s advice or support.

– Proud Stepmother

Dear Proud: There are many ways to be a great mom, without being called “Mom.”

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily. Email