Ask Amy: Mom upset grandkids call Dad's girlfriend 'Grandma'

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • June 22, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Dear Amy: I have two young children who are just beginning to talk.

I asked “Kate,” my dad’s girlfriend of 12 years, if she would like my kids to call her “Grandma,” and she very graciously accepted but added that she wasn’t sure that my mom was going to like that very much.

I maintained that it was my choice. She lives with my dad (who goes by “Grandpa”), so it didn’t seem like a big deal.

Tonight, my mom found out, and she became very angry.

I know my mom is still very upset that my dad left their marriage for this woman, but Kate has been supportive and loving and generally everything a grandma could be.

I don’t know what to do, because I risk hurting someone’s feelings either way. I feel that my kids shouldn’t have to pay the consequences of my parents’ actions, and that I should continue to let them call anybody who’s in a grandmotherly position by that lovely term of endearment.

Amy says: If you don’t want your kids to pay the consequences of your parents’ actions, then why does it seem like you are using them to punish your mother — just a little bit?

“Kate” was wise to know how loaded this issue is, and she was kind enough to think of the effect this would have on your mother. You? Not so much.

The usual protocol is for children to call their biological grandparents by traditional names and then to use a separate but equally lovely and often adorable nickname for step-grands and others in a “grandmotherly position.”

However, you can do whatever you want to do, including admit that you might have made an error and correct it (if you care to) before it becomes too confusing for the kids.

Sisterhood wanted

Dear Amy: I was struck by the letter from the stay-at-home mom who felt judged by mothers who worked outside the home. I have been on the receiving end of this, choosing to work. How about supporting one another’s decisions? How about a little sisterhood?

Do you ever hear men sniping at each other about issues like this?

Amy says: Good point. I never hear men judging one another’s choices in quite this way.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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