Dear Amy: I am a happy father. I was overjoyed to have my first child at the age of 57.
My boy, “Michael,” is now 11, and in the fifth grade.
My problem is that most of the younger parents assume that I am Mike’s grandfather. I always promptly correct that assumption, saying that that I am his father and that we started late.
Some of these statements are made within my son’s earshot. This has an impact on attending parent/teacher meetings and school functions.
This embarrasses both of us. He is a sensitive lad.
He has even said that he hates his parents being so old. (His mother is 47, but she looks much younger).
On one occasion a very heavy-set woman told me that I must be Michael’s grandfather. My response was to congratulate her on her pregnancy. As she assumed, so did I.
I would appreciate some help in addressing this issue. as it is a constant source of emotional distress.
—K, in Colorado
Dear K: The way to address this is to acknowledge your son’s perspective and feelings, without giving in to them.
Your embarrassment reinforces his. Your rudeness to an overweight woman teaches your son that it is acceptable to be mortified for the privilege of your age, and that rudeness is an acceptable reaction when someone makes an incorrect assumption.
Across North America, millions of grandparents are currently raising grandchildren, of course, some people assume that a 68-year-old man is an adolescent’s grandfather!
Your age makes parent/teacher conferences challenging? Why? You are there to discuss your son’s schoolwork. If a teacher brings up your age, or your child’s sensitivities surrounding it, you should ask for the teacher’s advice about how to handle it, and be open to a course correction.
Tell your son, “Hey, I understand that this can be hard on you sometimes. But you know what? It is what it is. I feel proud and lucky, and I don’t care what other people think.”
You cannot change your age. Many families carry burdens. Families cope with poverty, disabilities, and dislocation. Reassure your son that you’re healthy and happy, and that you plan to be around to bug and embarrass him for a very long time.
Dear Amy: I am a 75-year-old widow of three years. I got married at 17, and my late husband was my first, and only, love.
The guy friend I’m currently seeing is 78, and has been widowed for five years. He and his late wife were our best friends for 60 years.
We have been through the good times, very good times, bad times, and very bad times. The two of us went through losing our spouses. So, I guess it’s only karma that our friendship has blossomed into a romance.
He will be moving in with me soon. He really wants to get married. He’s not really pressuring me, but I do know that marriage is NOT what I want at my age.
I want us to live together for a few months to make sure this is good for both of us.
I’m thinking more along the lines of a commitment service, but I don’t know much about it, or who to contact.
What are your thoughts and feelings on my thoughts and feelings?
Dear Wondering: My thoughts and feelings are mainly celebratory. Karma, indeed!
I will also offer my casual, non-scientific observation that older men tend to embrace remarriage, while older women don’t seem to be quite so keen.
You and your guy should explore all of the legal ramifications of being together, both with and without marriage. You should see your attorney regarding practical matters like insurance, household finances, and estate planning.
A commitment ceremony might be a fun and appropriate way to celebrate your togetherness. There is no one way to do this — but basically it is like a wedding ceremony without the legal attachment.
A friend or clergy member could perform the ceremony and you could write your own vows and publicly declare your commitment to one another in front of friends and family. You might want to plan this event for six months from now, after you’ve both adjusted to your togetherness.
Dear Amy: The question from “Love-in-Law,” where a man said he was in love with his wife’s sister made my blood boil.
Thank you for stating: “You feel guilty because you ARE guilty.”
Dear Grateful: When someone confesses to infidelity and then wonders why he feels guilty — the answer writes itself.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)