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Past Depression Leaves Scars That Will Be Hard for Dad to Explain

DEAR ABBY: I had a rough time during my teenage and young adult years. One of the ways I dealt with it was by cutting myself. It became more severe over the years, and both my arms are covered with very noticeable scars.

Life is much better now, and my wife and I are expecting our first child. I have been trying to decide how I'm going to explain the scars to my child when he or she is older. I realize this will likely be a series of age-appropriate conversations. I don't want my child to follow in my footsteps, and I'm afraid to rationalize my behavior. How do I explain them? -- BETTER NOW IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR BETTER NOW: I agree that you should answer your child's questions in an age-appropriate way if you are asked. When your child is little, he or she may be satisfied if you simply say, "Daddy hurt himself." When he or she is older, add more detail as necessary. Because a tendency toward depression can run in some families, it's important to make a special effort to keep the lines of communication open when it comes to "feelings." If you are unsure how to handle this, consult your child's pediatrician for guidance.

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