DEAR ABBY: I got a stepdad when I was a young teen. He never tried to replace my dad, and was very respectful of that relationship. I didn't regard him as a father figure, but more as a relative, friend, and a good man who has done a lot of good for my family.
I'm a young adult now. My real dad died recently. Father's Day is now just a painful emptiness I would rather ignore, instead of partaking in celebrations that remind me the most important man in my life is gone.
My mom insists that I continue to acknowledge my stepdad on Father's Day. I know it's the polite and courteous thing to do, and my stepdad deserves every accolade in the world, but it's awkward for me. I hurt for the loss of Dad and don't want to be reminded on a holiday where everyone else at the party is surrounded by theirs. Is there a "best path" answer here? -- DAUGHTER MISSING DAD IN KANSAS
DEAR DAUGHTER: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your father. It's understandable that your heart is heavy. Mother's Day and Father's Day can evoke sadness for those who have lost a parent.
That said, I do think the respectful thing to do would be to remember your stepdad with a card as your mother wishes. Sometimes, knowing we have done something nice for someone else -- even if we are hurting -- can make us feel better. If you do, you won't be sorry. I know, because it has worked for me.
P.S. Readers, allow me to wish a Happy Father's Day to fathers everywhere -- birth fathers, stepfathers, adoptive and foster fathers, grandfathers, and all of those caring men who mentor children and fill the role of absent dads. And, of course, a big shout-out to dual-role moms and grandmothers. I applaud you all. -- LOVE, ABBY