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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Three years ago, my next-to-oldest daughter became angry with me and said, in front of my husband, "George" (her stepfather), that he had sexually abused her when she was small. I was furious that she would accuse him of anything like that. I thought she said it to get back at me.

Well, I have recently found out that what she said was true! George also abused my oldest daughter. They are now 34 and 36, and say they have forgiven him because he was drinking during those years.

Abby, I feel terrible for my daughters. I have been married to George for 31 years and would never have believed this in my wildest dreams! I'm sick about it and don't know what to do. My daughters have a good relationship with George now. I don't even want to look at him. Should I confront him? I don't know what good it would do now. Please help. -- FEELING NUMB IN INDIANA

DEAR FEELING NUMB: What George did is unforgivable. By all means confront your child-molesting husband, but not until you have first discussed this with a counselor and received some emotional support. Ask your daughters to accompany you in case they have any unresolved issues having to do with the abuse.

Since George has proven he can't be trusted around children, he belongs on a list of sexual offenders so he cannot molest other children with whom he might come in contact. And that includes grandchildren. Please don't wait.

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law, Lois, was a loving person, especially to children. At any family gathering, Lois could be found in a corner with the kids, reading stories, playing games or just talking with them. When she died, it was hard on all of us. We tried to protect the kids by not crying in front of them. Sometimes I'd have to run to the bathroom to hide my tears.

One night I woke to hear my oldest son, who was 7 years old, sobbing his heart out. After calming him, I asked what was wrong. He replied, "Mommy, how come nobody cried when Aunt Lois died?"

Sometime later, my daughters, 4 and 5, ended a conversation in their bedroom and came into the kitchen. They told me they figured out why God had let Aunt Lois die: God needed someone in heaven to take care of the babies until they were born.

I learned some important lessons that year -- from my children. -- PATRICIA IN OCEANSIDE, CALIF.

DEAR PATRICIA: From the mouths of babes ... Children sometimes exhibit a level of emotional honesty and genuineness from which adults can learn. It is important for children to understand that adults have honest emotions and that showing sadness is not inappropriate. Failing to express these kinds of feelings can cause problems in later life. Books have been written on childhood grieving and are available in bookstores and in local libraries.

Thank you for sharing the important lesson you learned from your children.

DEAR READERS: Children under 10 years old will love this:

Q: What is stranger than seeing a catfish?

A: Seeing a goldfish bowl.

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