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Small steps will welcome new stepgrandchildren

Dear Lois: My son recently adopted his stepdaughters, ages 9 and 12. They will be visiting us, and I would like to know if you have any ideas or suggestions as to how to make the occasion of their adoption a special way of welcoming them into our family. _ Mrs. E. Kaiser, Seminole

Dear Mrs. Kaiser: Sometimes less is more. Perhaps one of the best ways is simply to accept the girls as part of the family and part of the routine. Let them help set the table or work with you in the kitchen. As you do these small tasks side by side, that will permit an easy flow of conversation.

After dinner you might want to show them some family albums or pictures so they will know who some of this new cast of characters will be.

A warm, loving attitude will be sensed immediately, however, and what you do is not nearly as important as the way you do it.

In this world of amalgamated families, stepparents are not the only ones who worry about acceptance on both sides. We who are stepgrandparents also feel the pressure. We all want to fulfill a nurturing role, and we all need support and wisdom in building that role.

So, readers: Any ideas from your own family experiences for this letter writer?

Older women can earn respect

Dear Lois: I get disgusted with the prevailing negative attitudes toward older women. There's no way to win out over such attitudes!

The younger ones, especially the baby boomers, want us to drop dead. Why? They think they will have "more" after we are gone. _ Joan (age 55)

Dear Joan: As I look around the world, I see older women (e.g., Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou) getting plenty of respect. But they do something to earn it.

Many women in their 50s, 60s and beyond are redefining what it means to be older and women. They are launching new careers, finding new creative outlets and entering new relationships. This can be an exciting, challenging and rewarding time for all of us.

As long as we older women are out there contributing, we can demand respect and get it. Far from dropping dead, many of us are living life to the fullest.

How to toddler-proof host home

Dear Lois: My grandchild (age 18 months) is coming to visit with his parents in two weeks. Are there ways to childproof the house? He has just started walking and moves faster than any of us. _ Granny Careful

Dear G.C.: Probably the best thing you can do is to have carpeted floors. Tumbles are made easier when a child doesn't fall on a bare wood or concrete floor.

Also, if you are in a two-story house or any house with stairs accessible to the child, it is a good idea to gate the steps.

Not only should you keep medicine cabinets out of a child's reach, but you also have to watch for ordinary bathroom items such as mouthwash, after-shave lotions and even vitamins. Any of these ingested can do great harm.

It's always a good idea to have emergency phone numbers handy as well as the child's medical insurance information.

All right, enough of the warnings. Now sit back and have a good time with that baby.

If you want to ask Lois a question, share your favorite grandchild story or comment on anything of interest to families, write: Lois Wyse, Third Age News Service, 22 W 23rd St., New York, NY 10010.