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Ask Amy: Mom yearns to share sons' news with her ex
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Ask Amy: Mom yearns to share sons' news with her ex

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Dear Amy: My adult sons are so estranged from my ex-husband that neither invited him to their weddings.

While I still have difficult feelings toward my ex, I try to have some level of civil interaction with him.

He often asks for updates as to what our sons are up to and how they are doing.

He is their father, and it seems to me that he has a right to know at least a bit about what is going on in their lives.

Is it inappropriate for me to share general information, such as buying a house or changing jobs or is that something that only they should share?

Since they want no contact with him, without some information from me he would have virtually no knowledge of them.

While I do hope that at some point my sons' feelings toward their father will soften, I have never pushed them to have more interactions with him.

Still, it does seem sad to me that he should not be able to have any knowledge of what is going on in their lives.

He rarely tries to contact them, although I know he has reached out in the past.

I don't pass along anything I would think of as a confidence. But sharing some basics doesn't seem wrong to me.

Am I off base?

— Unsure

Dear Unsure: You don't say why your sons want no contact with their father (and perhaps you don't know), but this is an issue you should run past your sons.

What might seem like benign "general knowledge" to you might strike them as private and intrusive.

As it is your compassion toward your ex-husband is commendable, but you seem to be placing his desires and "rights" over those of your sons.

You could use this as an attempt to build a rickety bridge between all of these men: "Dad often asks about you; I don't want to violate your privacy, so I want to make sure it's OK if I share very general knowledge with him — just to let him know the basics?"

Respect their decisions.

Dear Amy: When I was about 56, I heard a young father saying to his toddler: "Look at the Nana!" at the condo complex swimming pool.

I was gobsmacked when I realized he was referring to me, and I did not respond. I'm 61 now, and this happened again at the grocery store.

A young mother pointed me out to her little girl, saying I looked like her grandma! My mouth must have been hanging open, because the mom said, "It's OK, you look like my mom, and she's pretty."

Other than wearing bifocals and being a bit overweight, I don't think I look or dress like a blue-haired little old lady.

Folks, this is not OK! I don't have children or grandchildren and would prefer you mind your own business.

For the record, I understand that in many cultures elders are frequently referred to as "aunties," etc., but I found this particularly condescending and rude.

Your thoughts?

— Not Your Granny

Dear Not Your Granny: First of all, no parent should ever point at, call out, and encourage a child to remark on a stranger's appearance.

No matter how benign these parents might believe their own behavior to be — unless the stranger is costumed as a Disney character at a theme park, that's just rude.

I suggest saying to a parent, "Hi, with all due respect, I'm not thrilled to be pointed at and talked about."

Secondly — and quite beside the point — being mistaken for a "Nana" does not automatically translate into you being seen as a "blue-haired little old lady."

While I understand your annoyance, on behalf of hot Nanas everywhere, I take exception to your own assumptions and stereotype.

Dear Amy: In a reply to "Stressed in Suburbia," you suggested that a woman working from home should ask the neighbor children to keep their voices down during her work hours.

Absolutely not, Amy! The neighbor kids with the trampoline aren't in a space that isn't theirs; they're not being destructive or misbehaving. They aren't doing anything except being kids.

Stressed can shut her window and invest in some noise-dampening curtains, but she absolutely may not set boundaries on when and how kids play in their own yards.

— Upset

Dear Upset: I didn't suggest that she ask them not to play, but I do believe that asking them to be aware of how noisy they are is worth a try.

You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

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