DEAR ABBY: I was raised by a horrible stepmom who made it her purpose in life to make my brother and me miserable. When I became a stepmom, I made it my goal to be the best one I could be, and for the next 15 years was a giving, loving stepmother to both my husband's children.
The problem? They take me for granted! They are not only disrespectful to me, but also to their father, who is a cancer survivor. During the last two years of treatments, I haven't been able to depend on them for anything. At this point I'm so disgusted I couldn't care less if I ever see either of them again.
My husband is torn. He gets upset when I talk about them or mention how they treat us. I'm at my wits' end, and I'm ready to leave. I have stood by him through sickness and hard times. Every time I see a light at the end of the tunnel, his adult kids show up. What should I do?
— READY TO GIVE UP IN FLORIDA
DEAR READY TO GIVE UP: Your husband is so emotionally invested in his children that he cannot recognize their shortcomings. Many parents have a similar blind spot, so try not to be too hard on him.
If you love your husband, and his "kids" are so busy they're not around a lot, why sacrifice your marriage? Stop "dissing" his kids, and when they come around stop making yourself so available. Get out of there. Find other things to do. Let your husband have the "pleasure" of entertaining them, and you'll be far less frustrated.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 50-year-old daughter of an alcoholic. My stepmother usually tells me when my 88-year-old — but young for his age — father goes into one of his drinking binges.
This time I found him out on the street drunk while she was on a two-week trip with her stepmother. Since she tells me when Dad gets drunk, should I give her the same respect, courtesy or whatever, or should I keep it to myself?
— PONDERING IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR PONDERING: By all means tell her what went on. I'm sure it will come as no surprise, and he may have done it to "punish" her for her absence. Alcoholism is a family disease, and I see nothing to be gained by sweeping your father's bender under the rug.
DEAR ABBY: Due to medical problems, I have a large raised scar on my chest. As a teen I used to be really self-conscious about it, but I decided that practically wearing a habit to cover it up is not fair to me.
I get lots of stares, which I don't mind so much when it is a child. One little girl came over, touched it, and asked her mother what it was. It made me smile.
My problem is with teenagers and adults. I would have hoped that by then people would know that staring is not only rude, but uncomfortable for me. Short of wearing nothing but turtlenecks, how do I inform people that I'd prefer to talk to them rather than their forehead?
— TIRED OF THE STARING
DEAR TIRED: When people of any age see something unusual, whether it's a piece of jewelry, a dog dressed like a child, a scar, etc., they are curious, and so they look. If their fascination with your scar has distracted someone from the conversation, tell the person you have noticed it and that the staring makes you uncomfortable. It's either that or ... you already know the rest.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.