Dear Abby: My ex’s new wife claims my children as her children

The kids’ mom is annoyed that the stepmom is taking credit for parenting them.

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DEAR ABBY: My former husband had an affair years ago, and when our divorce was final, he married the woman he was involved with. I’ll call her “Libby.”

Although I have moved on, it bothers me when she refers to my children as “her children.” I have asked her to stop, but she continues to talk about “her daughter” and “her son” and insists it’s a term of endearment and it shouldn’t bother me. My children don’t like Libby, so if she’s trying to get the world to believe they’re one big happy family, it isn’t working.

I think it’s rude of her to insist on telling people that these are her children. It’s as if Libby not only took my husband, but she’s also claiming to be the mother of my children. How should I handle this wretched person who refuses to get it? — REAL MOM IN KENTUCKY

DEAR MOM: Libby gets it, and she may persist in doing it in order to get your goat. But this is not a battle you should pick. It’s possible “Stepmom” may simply be trying to acknowledge her role in the parenting equation.

DEAR ABBY: Is it appropriate to confront someone in a restroom about not washing their hands, whether at work or in public? I noticed at work that some of my co-workers walk right past the sink or rinse their hands with water for a second and then leave. I think washing your hands thoroughly with soap is more important now than ever, and not washing hands is a health hazard. — WATCHING THE WASHING IN TEXAS

DEAR WATCHING: You are right. It is a health hazard. Everyone should realize that fact in light of the current health crisis. According to the Mayo Clinic, unwashed hands are spreaders of disease, which is why medical personnel and workers in the food industry are urged to be diligent about it.

That said, I don’t think it would be prudent for you to assume the parental role and remind your co-workers to wash their hands after using the bathroom. You might, however, suggest to your boss, once people are no longer working remotely, that it would be wise to issue a memo about the importance of frequent hand-washing.

DEAR ABBY: My sister, “Camille,” and I have almost nothing in common. She lives far from where I do. We have seen each other infrequently over the years, but when we have, she has always dropped a nasty comment or two, ridiculing me or my husband or our lifestyle.

She recently took early retirement and wants to come for a visit. Another sister says Camille is much more relaxed now because working full-time was very stressful for her. I gave up on a relationship with her long ago, and I have no desire to see or entertain her. We didn’t even like each other as children. Yet, I’m feeling guilty about saying no to her visit. Is it OK to draw the line on contact with a family member? — LEAVE ME ALONE IN WASHINGTON

DEAR LEAVE: Yes, it is. And it is also OK to tell her exactly why.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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