DEAR ABBY: Although I love my 7-year-old daughter, "Emma," I do not "like" her. It's because I dislike my ex-husband, "Scott," so much. He was verbally and emotionally abusive and left me while I was pregnant. The experience left me hurt and humiliated, and I continue to harbor resentment toward him.
I'm happily remarried now, but Emma is a constant reminder of my bad marriage. I feel she's selfish, rude, lazy and disrespectful - characteristics Scott possesses. I have little tolerance for her behavior and I'm hard on her. Sometimes I feel like I'm talking with him instead of to a little girl.
Compounding the problem is the daughter I have with my second husband, a little girl I adore beyond words. She's sweet, kind, friendly and essentially the opposite of Emma. I love this child more than I love Emma, and I'm disgusted with myself for feeling this way.
- Distressed in Massachusetts
DEAR DISTRESSED: Emma may be a difficult child, but she's not stupid. She sees the difference between how you react to her half-sister and the way you treat her. A first step for you would be to apologize to her, put your arms around her and tell her that from now on, you will try to do better as a mother. Emma didn't ask to be born, and you owe her that.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married 10 years. We didn't have a wedding. Instead, we went to the courthouse - just the two of us with a couple of witnesses - and had a small reception a few months later.
Having been a part of some very nice weddings recently, I mentioned to my husband that I wished we would have done something more special for our wedding. Now he wants to renew our vows with a huge ceremony. Would it be appropriate to have a big ceremony now?
- Wondering in Iowa
DEAR WONDERING: I think it's a wonderful idea. Ten years of wedded bliss is something to celebrate, and I see no reason that you shouldn't have a big ceremony.