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Reality Check: Jealous Stepmom

Q  I love my 6-year-old stepson, but I resent the time my husband spends with him when he visits. How can I get equal time for our daughters, ages 3 and 1?

A It's going to be a long, hot summer if you spend it resenting your stepson. Let's get real: He has less time with his dad than your girls do, so he and your husband are entitled to make the most of the limited time they have together.

Your husband may find it easier to play with his eldest child than with a toddler or preschooler. This is especially true for dads, most of whom seem to prefer playing catch and swimming to playing "catch me" and peekaboo. Right now, he and his son may simply have more interests and abilities in common. In a few years, though, this will begin to even out  -- your daughters will be big enough to get in on the daddy play action with their half brother, and they'll be able to participate in games that are more appealing to the guys, like catch.

Plan activities that you can do together. Have a picnic in the park, go out for ice cream, invite your stepson to push the girls on the swings or blow bubbles for them.

You might also try spending more one-on-one time with him. Go for a bike ride, to the playground, or to a museum or movie. You'll get the chance to deepen your relationship with him, which might just lessen your resentment. This will also give your husband some more alone time with the girls, and the space he'll need to play with them the way he wants, without interference.

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