DEAR CAROLYN: I have a daughter who is 14 and is not my husband’s biological daughter, and we also have a 4-year-old together. My children call my mother Nana and my oldest has done so even before my husband and I met.
My oldest and my mother are very close. We lived with my parents until she was 3.
My husband’s sibling’s children call his mother Nana as well, and my husband insists that our children call her Nana, too.
My oldest would never call her Nana out of respect for her Nana (my mother). I asked if they could call her something similar, like Nana “Vicki.” He said, no way.
My youngest one gets confused because she spends a lot of time with my parents, whereas his parents spend very little time with them, and when he insists on calling his mom Nana she gets confused about who he is talking about and I then have to explain that it’s Dad’s mom.
Am I justified in feeling they shouldn’t have to call her Nana if they don’t want to? And how do we remedy the situation?
DEAR L.: What, your Nana is better than his Nana so yours wins?
Your husband is being stubborn, yes, but so are you, and you’re topping off your stubbornness with bias toward your own family. If anyone has leverage here, he does.
But he doesn’t either because you’re both throwing down on a name when the real issue is love.
You love your mothers. Your mothers love their grandkids. Your kids love their grandmothers.
So, make this love easier for everyone by being adults and getting out of its way. Hereafter they are not judged for when they were named Nana by whom and how emphatically, and they are not pitted against each other on the grandkid love scale. They’re called Nana “Vicki” and Nana “Othername.” OK? OK.
DEAR CAROLYN: My boyfriend and I have been dating for six months and best friends for over eight years. I recently moved across the country so that we could live together.
His day-to-day lifestyle is not healthy and he chooses to drink and smoke every night. I enjoy a good time, but understand the importance of moderation.
Also, I often find myself waiting for him due to his inability to plan. If I want to eat dinner with him, I have to wait until 10 p.m. It leaves me feeling very lonely.
He says he wants to change but I see no real, consistent signs of this. Are my expectations of healthy living unrealistic? Do you recommend I stay with him until he settles down, or find my own path in this new city?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: You actually have three choices, not two: Stay and hope he changes; go; or stay and don’t hope he changes.
The only truly terrible idea I see here is the first one, agreeing to something and wishing it were something else. It’s anti-reality.
Plus, the wisdom of moderation notwithstanding, it’s your definition of how a life should be. It’s arbitrary. Period. Adults are free to drink and smoke and plan poorly; they just need to live with the consequences.
And the people who love them have to decide whether the person’s companionship is worth it, consequences and all.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.