DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Sad Grandpa" who, 38 years ago, married a widow with seven children. He now wants to remarry after her death, and his stepchildren are upset about it.
Perhaps his stepchildren are afraid not only of losing their stepfather, but also any property or belongings (monetary or not) that their biological father and mother would have left them.
I don't mean to make them sound greedy, but we all know from the letters you print that people who remarry later in life when their children are grown often forget that what they and their first spouse accumulated should be shared with their children. When parents remarry and are outlived by their new spouse, many times everything goes to the new spouse's family. And the children feel resentful and abandoned when nothing of their original family, monetary or not, is left for them.
Many clergy today require young couples about to marry to attend premarital counseling, but this is often waived for mature couples who have been married before. Perhaps these couples should also attend counseling which, among other things, would cover disposition of property and how each other's heirs will be remembered in their wills. -- ELYN KIRCHNER, MINNEAPOLIS
DEAR ELYN: I agree, it is unfair for all the assets to be left to another family. And premarital counseling is an excellent arena for ironing out such important issues.
It is also important, however, for grown children to understand their widowed parent's need for companionship in their later years, and to put forth every effort to make the new spouse feel welcomed into the family. Regarding the newcomer as an intruder can have painful consequences. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Stuck in Oklahoma," I felt compelled to write. "Stuck" stated that her mother had died and her father's second wife was difficult to like. She said she didn't know anyone who liked the new wife.
I can think of someone who likes her: "Stuck's" father! The relationship with my two grown daughters was strained for years after I remarried. They slighted my wife, and indirectly me -- in many subtle ways. They would "forget" her birthday, and address special-occasion cards to me only, or behave rudely in her presence. Any intervention by me was met with protestations of innocence on their part. After the loss of my second wife, I had a belated father/daughters talk and told them their behavior had been inexcusable.
My second wife had never tried to replace my daughters' mother. She had simply given their father the love he needed to make his life whole again. Remember, children, it's not easy being a second wife or husband. Cut some slack, OK? -- G.W. IN SHARPSBURG, GA.
DEAR G.W.: Thank you for sharing your experience. Perhaps others will learn that when widowed parents remarry, the grown children shouldn't feel abandoned. They should practice the Golden Rule.