Ask Amy

Monday, July 5, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: My stepdaughter lives in a different state from my husband and me. After my husband and her mother divorced, she moved very far away. The relationship has been strained by distance, as well as his ex-wife's attitude toward him.

We've maintained communication and a relationship with his daughter, and not a holiday has gone by without my husband sending her something — a card and/or gift.

We helped pay for her wedding, and now that she has children we always remember them as well.

My stepdaughter has let another Father's Day go by without so much as a phone call or card. She ignores his birthday and Christmas too.

This year I sent her an email saying that her dad's birthday was coming up and that he'd love to hear from her. She never responded.

My husband hates confrontation, so he won't say anything — yet it hurts him terribly.

Should I ask her why she does this?

— Wondering Stepmom

DEAR STEPMOM: Unfortunately, you won't be able to do much at this point to push these two into a more balanced state because your husband doesn't dare to express himself.

That's a shame because unless your husband behaves differently, nothing will change.

He should find a way to convey to his daughter that their relationship can be better if they both try to make it that way.

He should let her know that he's brave enough to hear whatever she needs to say to him. He should also admit that it hurts him when she doesn't acknowledge him on these special days. After he has said these things, he will feel better — and no matter what his daughter does, this will help.

Your role in this is to encourage him, rather than directly intercede on his behalf.

DEAR AMY: I'd like to offer you some feedback as to what marrying couples who ask for cash for wedding gifts might be trying to accomplish.

I'm a loan officer with a bank in the Washington, D.C., area. The FHA has a program called the Bridal Registry Account. It is a wonderful way for couples just starting out to get money for a down payment on a home.

The FHA requires that all funds be documented as to their source to protect against fraud.

If done correctly, it alleviates the donor of any financial minimum or maximum since the newlywed couple only gets notified that deposits have been made into their account, and while they know who gave, they do not know the amounts.

This is great for friends who may be struggling financially and only able to give a small gift. All the engaged couple knows is that they cared enough to give the gift, which is all that really matters, right?

— Loan Officer

DEAR OFFICER: I agree that this is a wonderful idea. People interested in setting up a gift registry can inquire at their local bank or search on the Internet for ways to participate in this program.

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Filed under: Lifestyles

2 Comments on this post:

By: NewYorker1 on 7/6/10 at 8:22

I let my friends and family know that I don't do weddings, graduations, or funerals. They know were I stand on those occasions and I let them know up front. You can say something like "Thank you for the invitation, but I don't do weddings." Use the money you would spend on their gift and buy yourself something fabulous. After all, you worked for the money, not them.

By: Marymeet on 7/6/10 at 8:23

Dear Amy,

Frustrated step mom can't do anything more, her step daughter sounds like a taker. I'm sure if the cards and gifts especially stop coming to her and her children, she will want to know what's up.

More importantly, I cared for my husband's grandfather the last 3 years of his life. He had three children but like most parents tended to take over when they tried to care for him. Yet once I arrived on the scene they were too busy, to call to, write to do anything.

Then "grandpa" died. All three proceeded to say, "I should have, I could have, I would have" and they live with that guilt the rest of their lives.

Step daughter needs to know daddy won't be around forever and she needs to settle accounts now while there is time.