DEAR ABBY: I am the stepmother of a preteen girl who has emotional problems. "Leah" treats me, my family and my friends like garbage. She's insulting, disrespectful and very mouthy. She lives with us because we are a stable, loving family, and our community has an excellent school system.
Leah's father and I are trying our best to raise her correctly and show her we love her very much, but it hasn't been easy. We are not the enemy because we expect her to clean her room, do her homework and participate in family life.
I would like to urge divorced parents everywhere to refrain from poisoning their children's minds about their stepparents. Bad-mouthing and brainwashing backfires in the end. Leah is more hurt than we are by her mother's constant negative input.
My husband and I will soon begin counseling with Leah, but I'd like to know if there is a support group for stepparents that we can join. We're trying the best we know how, and it would help to talk to other people in our situation. -- WEARY IN WYOMING
DEAR WEARY: I'm pleased that your family is getting professional help in coping with Leah's emotional problems, and I agree that speaking with others in your situation could be helpful.
The Stepfamily Association of America has chapters and support groups nationwide, as well as professional workshops and conferences for the entire family. Contact it toll-free at (800) 735-0329, or visit the Web site at www.saafamilies.org.
I wish you and your husband the best of luck.