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Ex-etiquette: Does fatherly affection go too far?

  • Article by: Jann Blackstone
  • McClatchy-Tribune News Service
  • April 9, 2013 - 2:23 PM

Q: I’m dating a guy with teenage daughters 16 and 18. He is always hugging them, and when we sit on the couch he will rub my leg and theirs. We went to a talk yesterday and his youngest daughter laid her head on his shoulder — his response was to lay his head on hers. Some people think his daughters are his girlfriends. Am I overreacting? What’s good ex-etiquette?

A: I think you are overreacting — because nothing you describe seems out of the norm to me. It sounds more like a father who loves his daughters, has a healthy affectionate relationship with them, and since they look like women, not babies, you may see them as competition for his affection. If dad’s behavior was inappropriate, the first ones to let him know would be his daughters. They would shy away and be embarrassed by his actions, but you say they easily interact and often initiate the affection. Therefore, it’s probably a healthy relationship and nothing to worry about.

Comparing your relationship with dad to his relationship with his daughters is a big mistake. If you put them on the same level, it will force dad to make a choice, and here’s a news flash — he will most likely choose his daughters.

Good ex-etiquette would be to not make him choose, but to understand that these are his babies, even though they don’t look like babies. Embrace his relationship with his children and you will be accepted as part of the family, by both dad and the girls.

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