Dear Amy:I live with my daughter, "Clara," my husband, "Don," and his son, "Steven," during the week (Steven is with his mother on the weekends).
My 15-year-old daughter is a competitive gymnast and is on the swim team. Steven is almost a year older, but is not athletic. He is more into computer games.
A month ago, I heard a commotion in the living room. A disagreement over the remote control led to the two teens wrestling. I found my dear daughter straddling Steven, pinning his hands to the floor. I sent them in opposite directions to cool off.
Steven seems a bit intimidated by Clara now. I explained this to Don and asked him to talk to his son about fairness. The next day, I found Don and Steven in the backyard doing some strength exercises. The message seemed to be: You can't be weaker than a girl.
After a couple of weeks of training, Don prompted Steven to arm-wrestle Clara. I stepped in and stopped the match to avoid embarrassment. I know Don was trying to build Steven's self-esteem, but I knew he couldn't compete with my fit daughter in upper-body strength. She and I both know she would have beaten him.
So now my daughter is keen to compete. Don is trying to train Steven. I saw Steven complete some pull-ups in the backyard. Clara went out after they left and churned out three times as many pull-ups.
Don should realize that girls can be stronger than boys.
I wonder, what's the best strategy from here? Should I keep them apart, let them compete or tell her to let him have a win?
Dear Brady:I'm not sure why you are talking to your husband about "fairness" when it was your daughter who pinned her stepbrother to the floor.
If this competition is more or less good-natured, then don't discourage it. The prospect of this has gotten "Steven" off the couch, which is probably a good thing.
"Don" should not shame his son and then egg him on with a sexist agenda. This father should be encouraging his son to build up his strength for personal health and self-esteem reasons.
This whole episode presents physical, emotional and relational challenges between these step-siblings, but it could also be a fun and memorable bonding experience — sort of a backyard Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs match.
The adults involved should let the kids train together and compete, if they want to, without too much interference, and the adults should witness the match. There is some risk of physical and ego injury, and both teens should be warned.
Whichever teen wins the match MUST be gracious. The losing teen might want a rematch at a later date. Unless there is a compelling and compassionate reason to throw the match, both kids should do their best to win it.
Dear Amy:My son got married. The wedding was videotaped.
The bride's family paid for us each to have an edited copy of the tape. They had complete control over the edit, and of course some parts were edited out.
There was a two-minute clip of two of our friends that I wanted to save, and I went to the video company and asked to have one copy made (and I would pay for it).
I was told that they had to get the bride's family's permission for them to make me a copy, and the bride's family informed me/ them that they would not allow it.
What's your take on this?
Dear Cherished:My take is that the bride's family hired the video production company; they are the clients and they likely "own" all the footage shot by the videographer during the day. The company cannot release outtakes without permission. If they could release footage, then anyone would be able to obtain footage meant to be held privately.
My take is also that it would have been kind and generous for the bride's family to offer these outtakes to you. If you had asked them first, before going to the company, the result might have been different.
Dear Amy:"Bored with Michelle" wanted to adopt a new nickname.
I gave myself a nickname, and it went a little like this: "Hi. My name is Diana, but my friends call me Gypsy. Oh, why you ask? Well, in three years, I've traveled to 37 states ..."
It's a great icebreaker and lets my new acquaintance choose what to call me.
Dear Gypsy:Nailed it.