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DEAR ABBY: I lost my husband a few years ago and am now remarried. Some of my adult children, although they did not want me to be alone and they "say" they are happy for me, have been slow in welcoming my new husband.

I in no way expect him to be a replacement for their father. I only wish they would welcome him into their lives as they would anyone else's spouse. They don't have to love him. I ask only that they respect him and acknowledge that he's part of my life now. Wishing him a happy birthday and happy holidays directly would go a long way to making him feel accepted, as would more general communication.

He has tried on numerous occasions to show an interest in their lives, but he receives little acknowledgment in return. His children have welcomed me into their lives. This has strained and changed my relationship with my children.

I just want a family again. Is it asking too much of them to accept my husband as part of the family and to treat him that way? -- MISSING MY FAMILY IN FLORIDA

DEAR MISSING: Have you told your children that the cool reception they have given your husband is harmful not only to him but also to you? If you have and they are still unable to warm up to him, it's time to concentrate your efforts on building closer relationships with those relatives who are willing to be more welcoming.

Remember, we can't change other people. We can, however, change ourselves, and by doing so, change the way we react to them.


DEAR ABBY: I have a family dilemma. We employ our 16-year-old niece to watch our boys, ages 8 and 10, during the summer and school breaks. We pay her well to come to our home and watch them eight hours a day.

My problem is, her younger brother is my son's best friend. He gets invited to their house for a sleepover the day before we need a sitter, and both boys go. Then the next day their mom says our niece watched them, and therefore she should get paid for that day, too. Abby, the mom is there all day.

To me, a cousin sleepover isn't something that should be charged for. Their children have come to our house for years for sleepovers, and I never charged them.

Is this OK? And if not, how do we refuse? We have already told her we prefer the boys to be watched at our home, so they receive one-on-one time. What do you think about this? -- COUSIN SLEEPOVER

DEAR C.S.: What do I think? I think you have been taken advantage of. A baby sitter is hired when there is no adult in the home to supervise the children. If your nephew's mother can't be home when your boys have been invited for a sleepover, the person who should pay for the baby sitter is her -- not you. If you want to put an end to this, tell the woman exactly what I have told you.

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