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Husband excludes wife, stepchild from vacation

DEAR AMY: My husband has two children from a previous marriage. I have an 8-year-old daughter from my earlier marriage (her father died). My husband and I also have a 1-year-old child together. I have worked very hard to create a family together. Recently my husband decided it would be a good idea to take only his children away on a vacation. I didn't like the idea, but I thought a three-day trip for bonding time would be OK. Instead he went to the Grand Canyon with his kids for a week. After this decision, I said I would take my daughter and our baby away during the same time. He had a fit, saying he would have to cancel his plans because he didn't want to leave the house empty. In advance of the trip, I can't tell you how many times my 8-year-old and I heard him and his kids say how excited they were for life to be the way it used to be (when it was just the three of them). My daughter is very sensitive because she doesn't have a father. I have never accompanied my husband on a vacation -- ever. I am hurt and feel it is inappropriate for him not to consider my feelings. He says everyone tells him it was a great idea to take his kids on this holiday. I don't agree. I'm trying to build a family here! Am I wrong?

-- Very Hurt

DEAR HURT: Raising kids in the same household but with separate status ("yours, mine and ours") confirms their worst instincts and fears: that they are not a "real" family. I can only imagine how painful this is for your 8-year-old, whose only father is leaving her out.

Children of blended families feel a special bond to their first parent, and there is no need to deny this. Sometimes, original family units spend time together exclusively on outings and, of course, there are times when parents will spend special time with one child. But you should not split your family down the middle for vacations unless this is embraced enthusiastically by everyone. This is not just one week away; this vacation means alienating you and your daughter before, during and (no doubt) after the trip.

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