Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Grandma Shortchanges Step-Grandson at Gift-Giving Time

DEAR ABBY: My mom insists on giving my oldest child, "Jim," less money than the other grandchildren because he's my stepson. Jim is 19, and I am the only mother he has ever known since he was 2 1/2. I'm still married to his father, and Jim is part of the family.

I realized what she was doing only last Christmas, when she gave Jimmy $100 and the other 12 grandkids $500 each. (This included my two younger children.) When I asked her why, she couldn't give me a straight answer. I have always regarded Jim as my own and thought she felt the same way. Now I'm no longer sure she's going to leave him an inheritance when she's gone, and I feel crummy about the entire situation. -- LOST IN THE SOUTH

DEAR LOST: I don't blame you for feeling crummy because this is a sad situation. Unfortunately, in some -- not all -- families this happens. Bear in mind the money your mother is gifting is hers to do with as she wishes, and there is nothing you can do to force her to behave more charitably toward Jim. However, you and your husband might consider equalizing it in your own estate plans when the time comes. Have the two of you already talked with an attorney about wills, advance directives, etc.? If you haven't, now may be the time to discuss the subject.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Money | Holidays & Celebrations