DEAR ABBY: I'm writing concerning the letter from the woman who was hurt by the way her husband treated her 7-year-old son from a previous relationship. She said the boy's father had no part in her son's life. Let me share my story.
I was a child in a home with a stepfather, stepsisters and stepbrothers. My sisters and I could do nothing right; the other kids could do no wrong. I got pregnant at 19, and my boyfriend said he would marry me, but he "might just leave" in a year or two. I chose to go it alone. During my pregnancy, I lived at home and endured more verbal abuse from my stepfather.
When my daughter was born, I went to work, paid my hospital and doctor bills and moved out. I resolved never to marry so my beautiful little girl would never endure what I had endured. And then along came "Jack."
He took us to movies, took us to play miniature golf; he took us fishing, and he won our hearts. When I agreed to marry him, his next words were, "Let's see what it would take for me to adopt 'Michele.'" A year later, our other daughter was born. At no time in the past 28 years has anyone who did not know that Michele was not Jack's child by birth, ever guessed it. She is his -- in his heart and soul.
We all like to think we would risk our lives to save a stranger from a burning building or a car accident, but most of us will never get the chance. That woman's husband has the chance to be a hero to her young son. It will not happen in one day or in one event. It will take EVERY day for the rest of their lives. Her husband can be a mentor, a teacher, a friend and a daddy -- or he can be a jerk.
When the world talks about heroes, no one from my house needs to look beyond my husband. Will the woman who wrote to you be able to say the same thing? -- PROUD TO BE JACK'S WIFE
DEAR PROUD: You certainly picked a winner when you married Jack. I congratulate you both for having your priorities in order when it came to Michele. You're a lucky family to have each other.
Whether or not the woman who wrote the sad letter that prompted yours will be able to call her husband a "hero" remains to be seen. They had been married for six years before she asked for my advice. I told her to no longer tolerate the situation and to ask her physician for a referral to a family counselor who could not only help straighten out her husband's thinking -- but also help the son rebuild his damaged self-esteem. I hope she took my advice.