Dear Feelings Doctor: I am happily married to a wonderful man for three years now. I am also a stepmother to his two great kids who I love dearly. My question is: How do I guide these children, love them and do the best I can when their mother constantly tells them that I am the one who broke up their marriage? She is always saying awful things to them about me. Help!

— Cynthia in Santa Barbara

Dear Cynthia: This is your time to shine — with your stepchildren and with their mother. Behavior you do not want to see repeated should be ignored.

The attitudes and words you want to see repeated should be praised and acknowledged. There is a wonderful video and class parents with children of divorce are mandated to attend called “Children in the Middle.” Perhaps everyone should take a refresher course together.

You can also find out their favorite foods that their mother makes, ask her for her recipes, share some things that you both have in common and maybe, just maybe, one day there will be peace on both sides of the fence. It’s a goal worth working toward.

Dear Feelings Doctor: I have recently had a double mastectomy. My girlfriends around me think that I need to have reconstructive surgery to look better and feel better. I feel fine, and I think I look fine, too. What do I say to their comments?

— Keeping a Breast in Santa Barbara

Dear K.B.: Tell them you feel fine, and if they need any help with how they feel about their bodies, perhaps you have suggestions for them as well! Bless you and your courage to keep shining.

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Imagine This …

You cannot fix what you won’t talk about. Courage is the most important virtue! There is no blame … there just is.

— Psychotherapist Randi Rabin, M.A., MFTI, answers reader questions in her weekly Noozhawk column, The Feelings Doctor, and can be contacted at She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara and completed her master’s degree in psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute under the guidance of renowned psychologist Stephen Aizenstat, Pacifica’s chancellor and founding president. She has worked as a counselor with a number of local nonprofit organizations and schools. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.