Dear Amy:

My former wife and I have been divorced for more than 10 years. In that time, I have remarried and my daughter has married and started her own family.

My current wife would like to be called “Grandma” by my new grandchild, but my daughter is adamant that this will not happen.

I don’t care about this, personally, but my daughter and my wife do care and the problem is becoming disruptive (my wife’s feelings are hurt and my daughter feels just as uncomfortable in the other direction).

I thought calling the blood grandmothers “Grandma” and the step-grandmother “Grandma Karen” would solve it, but apparently not.

I think it is my daughter who is wrong on this one, but it is her baby and her call, so I’ve asked my wife to just accept it quietly. Any better solution?

Perplexed in the Middle

You are being reasonable. But this tricky family issue is not going to respond to reason.

I notice a clue to the deeper issue in your letter. As long as your family thinks of people as “blood grandmothers” and “step-grandmothers,” you’re going to have a problem.

Ideally, your daughter would look at the big picture: More “Grandmas” means more loving hugs, more butterscotch candies proffered from the bottom of a giant purse and more, more, more of everything good.

Ideally, your wife would assume an attitude of, “You can call me anything you want; just don’t call me late for the ballet recital.”

I assume that your family is working this out the way most families do — indirectly and through the path of least resistance: you.

I’m sure you’re doing your best to be helpful by negotiating with each woman in turn, but at this point you might as well try to tackle this issue head-on.

Invite your daughter over. Ask the women to discuss this and offer to hold the baby while they do. If your daughter continues to be inflexible then, yes, your wife should suggest an alternate nickname that is special to her and tolerate it.

Dear Amy:

I am in my mid-20s and have been dating my boyfriend for about a year and a half. We have been living together for six months.

I really enjoy cooking and exploring new recipes and techniques. He seems to be thrilled that this is a hobby of mine and often encourages me to try new recipes that he thinks look promising.

The problem is that when one of these new recipes goes wrong he tends to pout, get takeout and ask me endless questions about my mistakes.

Though it is good to evaluate what I did and avoid doing it again, sometimes recipes simply do not work out. I feel defensive when something does not work out. Then I put too much pressure on myself to perform perfectly all the time.

How do I delicately explain to him that if he wants me to cook, sometimes the results will be less than perfect?

Can’t Handle the Heat

You needn’t be delicate about this. Your boyfriend’s behavior toward you when he perceives that you have made a “mistake” is alarming.

It’s okay to express disappointment when something doesn’t turn out the way you want, but pouting, acting out and peppering you with questions about what you did wrong is not acceptable.

Your reaction to this is to freeze up and walk on eggshells, worrying that you aren’t perfect enough. This dynamic is not healthy; in fact, it’s toxic. I can’t tell if he is being abusive when he does this, but you probably can.

You need to face this issue honestly. His behavior is unacceptable. It is also a textbook example of how not to get served a delicious meal.

Dear Amy:

Regarding the “bottle blonde” who was sick of the “dumb blonde” jokes at her expense: My favorite response comes from Dolly Parton, who, when in that situation, said: “I’m not offended because I’m not dumb. And I’m also not blonde.”


Many readers responded with various versions of this Dolly Parton line. Love it!

More from Lifestyle:

New mom worries about home life

Miss Manners: Disapproval of friend’s spouse is best kept to yourself

‘Harmless flirting’ or a trust issue?

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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