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Annie's mailbox: Boy's name change is confusing to everyone

Dear Annie: My 12-year-old grandson is using his stepfather's last name on the back of his sports uniform. This is at the request of his mother, who is divorced from my son. Apparently, she felt the boy's real name might cause him to be teased, so she prefers people know him now by her new husband's name. My grandson never has actually been teased about his name, and as far as I'm concerned, the new husband's name is not an improvement. Neither name is insulting, just unusual.

I am very distressed about this. My son is a wonderful father who has joint custody, lives in the same town, spends at least three weekends a month with my grandson, plus holidays, and the boy is an integral part of our family. It seems like his mother is giving him the message that his real name is embarrassing.

My grandson has a 3-year-old brother, also my son's child. How do you explain to the younger boy why his older brother (whom he adores) now has a different name than he does? The mother's solution is for the new husband to pretend the 12-year-old is his son.

I know it's not my business, but I am having a hard time with it. I feel sad and angry at the same time. I doubt my grandson gave any thought to his name before, but his mother has made an issue of it. His father, my son, is against the change. If you have any advice, I would really appreciate it. —Grandma in Name Game

Dear Grandma: There is no reason for your grandson's mother to make his name an issue. She is deliberately giving the impression that her current husband is the boy's father, which not only is unfair to your son, but it can be confusing to the boy. It also could lead to a permanent name change if your son does not nip this in the bud. He should make his objections clear to his ex-wife, and then discuss it with his lawyer.

Dear Annie: I'd like to respond to "Unloved and Fed Up," the woman who found herself wishing her husband would die when he had a heart attack.

I could have written that letter. I had been married for 18 years to a man who sounds exactly like her husband. We had the big house, luxury cars, all the latest toys, etc., but I was miserable. I felt unloved and lonely. After much soul searching and hours spent in counseling with my pastor, I decided it wasn't worth sacrificing my emotional health to stay in the marriage just for the material things we had.

It's been 20 years since I left him. A few years ago, I married a man who doesn't have two cents to rub together, but he lets me know every single day that he adores me, and he treats me like a queen. I couldn't be happier. I have peace, joy and the knowledge that I am well loved. —Been There, Done That

Dear Been There: You are right that material possessions cannot make up for an unhappy marriage. Here's a different take on the problem:

Dear Annie: I could be the husband of "Unloved and Fed Up." Yes, she is highly organized and her house is a showplace. In addition, she is mother of the year. She is so intently focused on perfection 24/7 that she never has time to talk to me. Anything I want has to be on her schedule and must be up to her standards, including sex, which means she does not hesitate to be critical if it isn't perfect. Furthermore, she has never once in her life suggested that I might be attractive or worth anything. Broaching the subject draws a rant about how lucky I am to have her. After a few years of this, I decided I didn't need it and left.

Perhaps "Unloved" will see herself in this letter. I hope the counseling helps, but if it doesn't, she'll probably blame her husband for that, too. —Have Better Things to Do


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.