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by Abigail Van Buren

With Dad out of the Country, Boyfriend Takes on Parenting

DEAR ABBY: My husband's brother split from his wife, "Charlotte," five years ago and now works and lives in another country. The brothers are still quite close. His school-age daughters live nearby and are close to their cousins, our daughters.

Charlotte's latest boyfriend (they have been dating for 18 months) has started insisting on hanging out with my husband and trying to "bond" with him. He is also jumping with both feet into the role of stepfather, especially with the younger daughter, who has just returned after living with her father for the last seven months.

It feels awkward and weird, but we are too polite to say anything to him or Charlotte because we're afraid she'll restrict us from seeing our nieces. What is your advice? -- ANXIOUS IN AUSTRALIA

DEAR ANXIOUS: Not knowing the terms of your brother-in-law's divorce, my advice is to consider that Charlotte has been with this man for a year and a half. He may be trying to form a relationship with your husband because he wants to bond with "the relatives." Your husband doesn't have to be best friends with him, but he should keep the relationship cordial -- not only for the nieces, but also so his brother can stay informed about them.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce