DEAR ABBY: I read the letter from "Feeling Used in Cleveland," who resents her husband's little boy being dumped off by his mother every time she needs a free baby sitter. Your answer was good but not harsh enough.
"Feeling Used" knew the man she married had a child. What makes her think that that little 8-year-old is any less deserving of his father's love, time and attention than the two children she and her husband brought into the world?
She complained about the ex-wife dropping off the boy when he's sick. Instead of complaining, she should give him the TLC he deserves. That child has to watch his dad live with and raise two other kids while he gets shuffled back and forth -- and his STEPMOTHER is resentful? Boy, does she have it backward.
I am a married mother of four, and wish all prospective stepparents would reach down deep to see if they have what it takes. There are many wonderful stepparents out there, but "Feeling Used" has a lot of work to do straightening out her priorities. Sign me ... SICK OF SELFISH STEPPARENTS
DEAR S.S.S.: I agree that the woman needs a quick attitude adjustment. When two people with children marry, there should no longer be "his," "hers" or "mine." Only OURS. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My mother has a stepgrandson who is her responsibility nearly every weekend. "Sean" was left for my mother to care for three weeks after his birth, while his parents took off to join the circus.
While Mom has her share of trials with Sean, she is the only stable and constant element in his life. Instead of bemoaning the situation, she dutifully picked up where Sean's mother and father left off -- and is the most important influence in his life.
I implore "Feeling Used" to dwell less on herself and her needs and to concentrate on caring for her 8-year-old stepson. I guarantee the result -- and the feeling she'll enjoy -- will more than compensate for her time. -- MATTHEW IN LAS VEGAS
DEAR MATTHEW: I admire your mother's love, commitment and wellspring of energy. Today millions of grandparents are raising their grandchildren -- with all of the challenges and rewards that go with it. For those who find it overwhelming, the AARP Grandparent Information Center offers information and referral to local support groups for grandparent caregivers through its national database. To contact the center, write to: AARP Grandparent Information Center, 601 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20049. Call (800) 424-3410; the Web site is www.aarp.org/grandparents.
DEAR ABBY: Your advice to the resentful stepmom was right on. At the age of 8, I was the resented stepchild, and didn't know why.
When I became a stepmother and was used as the dumping ground by my husband's ex, I received some excellent advice from a close friend: "Forget the reasons why the child is there, just know he needs you. Change your attitude, because you are what you think, and your actions will show it -- good or bad."
Twenty years later, my stepson handed me his newborn and whispered, "I love you for loving me like your own. Here's your grandson, Mom." I sent up a prayer of thanks for her excellent advice, because love is thicker than blood. -- THE LUCKY ONE
DEAR LUCKY ONE: Regardless of your biological relationship to your stepson, you were the parent who counted the most. It is the job of parents -- regardless of blood ties -- to nurture and protect the children given into their keeping.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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