DEAR ABBY: The letter from "No Name, No Address, No Phone," about the way a stepmother treated her husband's children, brought tears to my eyes. It was a real eye-opener.
My fiance and I have chosen to blend our families. I have an 8-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. My fiance has a 5-year-old son, "Benny," whom we are trying to get custody of. The battle has been ugly and is not over yet.
The stress of being jostled back and forth between his mother and father has made Benny oppositional, defiant and difficult to live with. He got so bad that I refused to deal with him any longer. I regarded him as an ungrateful, rotten child. My fiance was always disciplining him to appease me. He also cut back on visitations with Benny to keep peace in the household. I felt guilty about this, but was so stressed out, I didn't oppose it.
Then I read your column. It made me realize I was so focused on Benny's bad behavior, just waiting to "catch" him doing something wrong, that I had failed to recognize all the good things he was doing -- and that really, all he wanted was for someone to love him unconditionally, and not expect him to be "perfect." This is every child's right, after all. I also realized we were more strict with Benny than my own children. My kids don't upset me because they're older, but they're certainly not perfect. All three children should be treated equally.
Yesterday, Benny helped me clean the living room without being asked. I scooped him up in my arms and told him how much I appreciated it and what a good helper he was. His face lit up and he hugged me back. From now on, I will not see him as his mother's son. I will see Benny as the individual he is and focus on the positive.
Thank you for waking me up, Abby. Our blended family will be a lot happier because of your column. If you print this, please sign me ... AWAKENED
DEAR AWAKENED: You are to be applauded for your awakening. All I did was write the column. You were the one perceptive enough to read between the lines, apply it to your own situation and begin to make the necessary changes. I congratulate you.