Father/daughter date’s fine but goal should be inclusion

DEAR AMY: I was a single father to my daughter until I recently remarried. My daughter is 10 years old.

My wife has two younger daughters. We all get along just fine and consider ourselves the parents of three beautiful girls, not my one daughter and her two daughters.

The issue is that my "biological" daughter at times wants to spend time with just me. She asks to go to dinner or to a movie, etc. It’s nothing big, but she wants it to be just the two of us.

My wife gets upset and cannot understand why we would want to "exclude" everyone else.

I believe there is no harm in a father/daughter date. It rarely happens, but when it does, an argument follows. Bad feelings result.


I have no problem with my wife going to dinner with just her girls, and they have on several occasions. I have also tried to set up a similar outing with her kids, and to date that hasn’t occurred.

Is this father/daughter dinner something that shouldn’t happen?

Am I being unreasonable, or has marriage made this against the rules? — Trying To Keep the Peace

DEAR TRYING: It is natural for your daughter to want alone time with you, but surely you can understand your wife’s point of view.

You say that so far you haven’t had any solo outings with your stepdaughters, but I find it hard to imagine that you can’t make this happen. You need to key in on their distinct personalities and interests, and volunteer in the classroom, coach a team or be a playground snack dad.

Your job as a father and stepfather is to help all of your children integrate into a family. There’s no point in pretending that your daughters are exactly the same. You should encourage your biological daughter to see herself as part of a new family unit.

Your wife should make an effort with her, just as you should with your stepdaughters. Thoughtful parents treat their children as individuals and spend occasional "alone time" with each child.

In addition to occasional solo time with your daughter, you should encourage her to choose an activity that will appeal to the younger kids, and invite them along.


DEAR AMY: I recently ran into a friend at a bar. We haven’t kept in touch over the past two years, but I knew that she had gotten engaged.

I noticed the ring and asked her if she was still engaged or if they had gotten married. She got a bit snippy and said, "Yep, still engaged, not married," then turned away.

I realized I probably touched a sore spot, but what would have been a better way to ask her about it? — Confused About Asking

DEAR CONFUSED: You might have been the 150th person who asked this woman the same question, but you did nothing wrong. When a person becomes engaged and publicly announces it by wearing a ring, questions inevitably follow. She is the one who was rude.

However, if you haven’t seen someone in a long time, it’s best to test the waters by asking a vague and open-ended question along the lines of, "I’d love to catch up. Tell me what’s new with you." Then you let her spin her own story in her own way.

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

What To Read Next
Get Local