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by Abigail Van Buren

Extended Family Celebration Can Be Richer for the Size

DEAR ABBY: I agree with your answer to "Caught in the Middle," whose new girlfriend resents his ex-wife's being present for their 6-year-old son's special days. Throughout the many years that I have been married to my second husband, we have welcomed his two ex-wives, my three stepchildren and all their spouses to join us for special occasions as an all-inclusive extended family. There have been a few instances when none of the children were able to join us for a holiday celebration, but we were pleased that the ex-wives still attended. Our extended family has enriched our lives.

Divorce between parents needn't mean one of them must also separate from the children -- the parental relationship still remains.

Rather than disrupting an apparently cordial relationship that is being maintained for the benefit of a young boy, the new girlfriend should realize that the mother's interest in sharing time with her child for holiday events that include other family members isn't "weird." To deny the ex-wife access to her son's special activities would be detrimental to all concerned. -- MARY JANE SCHONEBERGER, PHOENIX

DEAR MARY JANE: Were it within my power to do so, I would nominate you for a Medal of Common Sense and Magnanimity. You are terrific, and your husband is a lucky man.