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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 12-year-old girl and I need some advice. My dad recently had an affair with a woman he met when he went back to school. She is also married. He asked her to marry him, but she said no, so he decided to come back home. He has left us twice before, so my home isn't very stable.

My parents got married at a very young age and have been together for 26 years. Mom tells me she doesn't want to get divorced, because she is still in love with him and thinks that "a two-parent home is better than a one-parent home." She may be right, but even my counselor agrees that one stable parent is better than two unstable parents.

Now that Dad is living back home, he expects me to act like nothing happened -- that we are "one happy family." I can't do it, and I'm still very hurt. What should I do? -- NEEDS ADVICE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR NEEDS ADVICE: Since no one in your family has amnesia, your father's expectations are unrealistic. Considering the fact that he has left the family multiple times, your feelings of hurt and distrust are valid. Family counseling could be helpful to all of you, but if your parents are unwilling, the wisest thing you can do is to continue talking with your counselor until you work through more of your feelings.

DEAR ABBY: Our oldest daughter "Bonnie" has just entered into her second relationship since her recent divorce. We are concerned that she continually uproots our grandchildren to move to a different place. We feel it's time a woman in her 30s "settled down" and gave her children a stable home environment. The father of the children was killed in an unfortunate accident.

Each time she claims to be "in love" and expects us to welcome her new man when we have barely had time to adjust to the last one. Our youngest daughter, "June," feels as we do. Consequently, the two girls no longer speak.

Our dilemma: Since we all live far away from each other, we get together once a year for a family reunion. We always stay with June and her family because Bonnie has never had a spare room until now. Our reunion is coming up, and because of the rift we won't all be together. We would like to see Bonnie and the grandchildren, but are not interested in meeting her new man or traveling to her new home.

How can I diplomatically explain to Bonnie and settle on a neutral place to meet without any hurt feelings? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR CAUGHT: There is no way you can do that, so I urge you to rethink your plan of action. You are not helping your daughter, Bonnie, to make "wise choices" by making her feel like an outcast. If June doesn't want to speak to her -- fine. But Bonnie has suffered enough tragedy and disappointment without your adding to her grief. Punishing her will only widen the rift.

DEAR ABBY: The woman I live with accepted a gift -- a dog -- from a guy. Six weeks later she had an affair with him. It happened only weeks after we had made commitments for a future together.

The problem now is the dog. She says she is keeping it because it was a personal gift. I don't want it around because it is a constant reminder that she cheated on me with the person who gave it to her. I feel that keeping the dog shows a lack of respect for me and our relationship.

I need an answer. Should she keep the dog? -- GARY IN LINCOLN, NEB.

DEAR GRAY: Considering what the dog symbolizes, certainly not. And if she insists on keeping it, I predict your future will be 'ruff, 'ruff, 'ruff!

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)

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