Dear Ann Landers: I’m a divorced mother of two. My ex-husband married a young woman who had never been married before or had any kids. I always invite “Vanessa” to come with my ex-husband to my daughters’ birthday parties, but she has yet to say one word to me. It’s as if I don’t exist.
Here’s the problem. Vanessa is constantly overstepping her bounds with my children. For example, a few days ago, she decided my oldest daughter, who is in the sixth grade, needed to start shaving her legs and helped her do it. She also keeps cutting my girls’ hair in whatever styles she wants.
I’ve spoken to my ex-husband about this, but he doesn’t think Vanessa is doing anything wrong. We’ve been to mediation over some of our areas of disagreement, and the mediator has told Vanessa she should respect certain boundaries, but she goes back to doing whatever she wants. The final straw was when she volunteered to be a room mother for my youngest daughter’s class. That really burned me up.
How do I handle this? The woman is really getting to me. - Annoyed in Texas
Dear Texas: Vanessa may be a bit ham-handed, but she is trying to develop a closer relationship with her stepdaughters, and you should not resent it.
Most second wives seem more glamorous to children than their own mothers. (They are usually younger.) Sometimes, a new wife will cozy up to the kids to get their approval and make points with the new husband.
Don’t compete. Stay in the background and refrain from making any critical remarks. When the novelty wears off, things will settle down.
Dear Ann Landers: After reading the warning signs of cancer in your column a few months ago, I felt compelled to add a comment.
With the prevalence of managed health care today, please tell your readers to INSIST that a newly discovered mole be removed or demand to be referred to a specialist. Do not accept the diagnosis of a general practitioner that such a mole is of no consequence and can be safely ignored.
We attended our beloved son’s memorial service last month, and it is a virtual certainty that he would be alive today, enjoying his beautiful 7-month-old daughter, if the general practitioner he saw last year had removed the new mole when my son first discovered it. When the mole was finally removed six months later, it was discovered to be malignant - a Stage 4 melanoma.
My son knew the chances for survival were extremely slim - less than 1 percent - despite treatment with interferon, interleukin and chemotherapy. He tried everything, but in the end, it didn’t matter. It was too late.
Not all preferred health providers are trained to recognize melanoma. Friends in the medical community share our opinion that such tragedies will occur more often with the prevalence of managed health care and the efforts to control costs. Corners are cut, and often, the patient gets short shrift.
I hope our son’s tragedy can help save a life. Please warn your readers. - Mary and Bob in Eugene, Ore.
Dear Mary and Bob: My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your son. The voice of experience speaks louder than anything I might say. Thanks for an excellent letter. It could save lives.
Gem of the Day: Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. Then, after you have criticized him, you will be a mile away and you will also have his shoes.
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