Dear Ann:

I am the mother of a very confused 5-year-old boy. His father and I are divorced, and we both have remarried. My new husband loves "Timmy" and is a wonderful father to him. Thanks to his encouragement and generosity, he has helped me be more supportive of Timmy's relationship with his father. I have tried to be kind to Timmy's father and stepmother, and have gone out of my way to accommodate their schedules. We have even loaned them money to help pay some bills. I do this because I love my son.

Ann, my son's stepmother has lied to him and to us repeatedly, and I do not know what to do anymore. She signed Timmy up for soccer, but neglected to tell us, and we missed his first practice. She then told the other parents that we obviously didn't care about Timmy, or we would have shown up. She has also lied about how Timmy is doing in school. She says he has reading problems and is in remedial classes, which is absolutely untrue. Timmy is a bright little boy, and is doing very well. She encourages him to keep secrets from us, and tells him we are not nice people and that he doesn't have to do what we tell him.

Ann, Timmy loves his father, and is trying to develop a good relationship with his stepmother. We do not want to make him unhappy, but I think all this deception is taking its toll. I don't want to prevent Timmy from seeing his father, but my ex-husband refuses to do anything to help. He lets his wife handle everything concerning Timmy, and as you can see, she does not have his best interests at heart.

I don't want to see my son hurt, but I don't know what to do to make things better. I am angry and upset and worried. Please advise.

A Mom in Ohio

You must meet with your former husband and an experienced counselor, who will spell out for him exactly what is happening. The child is the victim here, and your ex-husband can and should save him. Unfortunately, your ex-husband's new wife appears to be vindictive and destructive.

If there is a chance that you can change the visitation and custody arrangements without going through messy court proceedings, you should consider it. If your former husband is willing to do this for the boy's sake, it might be an excellent solution to the problem. Good luck, dear. I hope you succeed. If you do, everybody wins.

Dear Ann:

Having read your column for the past 40 years, I feel as if I know you as a friend. I am sending an item that appeared in the California Retired Teachers Association newsletter. The author is unknown. I hope you will think it's funny enough to share.David H., La Crescenta, Calif.

I do, and I shall. Thank you. Here it is:

WHY WORRY?

There are only two things to worry about--

Either you are well, or you are sick.

If you are well, then there is nothing to worry about.

But if you are sick, there are two things to worry about--

Either you will get well, or you will die.

If you get well, then there is nothing to worry about.

But if you die, there are only two things to worry about.

Either you go to heaven or to hell.

If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.

If you go to hell, you'll be so darn busy shaking hands with old friends,

You won't have time to worry.To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.