Q. About every other year, my mother travels across the country to visit my husband and me.
While she was visiting us last week, we took her to an event with some friends. Toward the end of the evening, I saw my mother browsing in the gift shop at the venue where the event was held. I watched her pick up an item for sale. She held the item behind her purse and then went into the bathroom. When she came out the item was no longer with her.
I could not believe what I saw. The next day I looked in her purse, and the item was in there. I know for a fact she did not pay for it.
My mother is 75 and in good health.
I did not say anything at the time, and now she has returned home, and it is really bothering me. Should I say anything to her about this, or should I just leave it alone?
A. The time to have spoken up was while your mother was with you. At least you could have held up the item in question and said, “J’accuse, Mother!” and received some sort of explanation.
This also would have given you the opportunity to at least try to determine whether your mother is absent-minded, suffering from some sort of age-related cognitive disorder (shoplifting is one symptom), or a fully functioning unrepentant kleptomaniac.
You should definitely discuss this, but first you should listen to what she has to say about the trip; the moment to raise this may present itself organically, in which case she will be more receptive to talking about it. Otherwise, yes, you’ll have to express your shock and try to figure out what is going on with her (from a distance).
I think it is time for you to plan to visit your mother at her home to see more clearly how she is really doing.
Q. I am going to be getting married in a year. My parents divorced when I was young. My mother has been with the same man (whom I consider my stepdad) for more than 11 years. He has helped me throughout my life, and I consider him to be a father figure. I am blessed to have him in my life. My birth father is also in my life, but he is unreliable.
I have decided to ask both my father and my stepdad to walk me down the aisle, but my father is not happy about this idea.
I am also planning to make wedding programs, and I am confused about how I should word them without hurting my father’s feelings. I don’t know what to do when I note the “Parents of the Bride.”
My father is my parent, but I feel my stepdad should also be included. I don’t know how to word this!
A. There is no one “correct” way to design your wedding. Asking both dads to walk you down the aisle is inclusive and sounds great.
I only hope your two fathers accept your choice and respond well. Even if they don’t, realize that you are making choices, and so will they.
Assuming your father is not remarried (or with a long-term partner), here’s how to list your parents in the program:
“Wendy Smith and Bob Jones (this is your mother and your stepdad).
“Bob Smith” (your father). If he is remarried, also name his spouse.Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.