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by Abigail Van Buren

Boy Must Someday Know Truth About Absent Dad

DEAR ABBY: I have a 5-year-old grandson I adore. His mother (my daughter) is a single parent who left the father of her child after he beat her up. He was charged and spent six months in jail. We assured him at the time that he would have no financial or social obligations to his child whatsoever, and they have had no contact since the incident. That was five years ago when my grandson was a newborn.

My question: What do we tell my grandson when he asks about his father? Please understand that this man is a drug dealer and gang member from a "family" of gang-bangers who have all done jail time. He's also a high school dropout with no future.

I see no good coming from my precious grandson knowing anything about his father, who lives in the next town. My daughter has a good job and is raising my grandson in a loving, healthy and stable environment. He is surrounded by fine role models.

What I'd like to do is tell my grandson his father is dead. What do you think, Abby? -- CONCERNED GRANDFATHER IN SEATTLE

DEAR CONCERNED: Although it's tempting, I don't recommend it. If you lie, that untruth will come back to haunt all of you, and your grandson will wonder what other lies he was told.

When he asks, it would be better to tell the boy that when he was born, his father was too immature to be a parent and agreed that his son should be raised by his mother and her family. Later on, when he is older, he should be told the truth. Be prepared to offer him professional counseling at that time to help him deal with any feelings of rejection.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Danny," and I have been married for nearly four years. We never had a problem until my sister, "Tina," and her kids moved in with us. Danny gets upset because Tina lets her kids do whatever they feel like. Our house is always a mess and they waste a lot of food that we have paid for. Danny wants me to tell Tina that she must control her kids or find another place to live.

I feel bad for Tina because she has no place to go. However, I love my husband and want our marriage to be like it was before Tina moved in. What should I do? -- DESPERATE IN OHIO

DEAR DESPERATE: Accept the fact that you can't continue living like this. Your sister needs a goal. Give her a specific date to be out of your home and help her to do whatever is necessary to leave -- job, affordable apartment, child care, etc. She'll thank you for it later, and you will save your marriage.

DEAR ABBY: Here's another use for old pantyhose: Whenever I get a run in a pair, I throw them in the washer, then cut the legs off right above where the control section starts (to keep the top from fraying). After discarding the "girdle," I put the clean, cut-up legs in a drawer in the kitchen.

Whenever I purchase onions, I slip a stocking over one of them until it rests securely in the top. Then I tie a knot about an inch above it and insert the next onion -- and so on -- continuing to the top of the leg.

I hang the stocking inside the basement door, out of the way. Whenever I need an onion, I simply cut one off from the bottom (right below the knot). My onions last longer -- while I get the satisfaction of one more use out of an old pair of pantyhose. -- RUTH IN CALEDONIA, MICH.

DEAR RUTH: And if an intruder should enter your home, you can always use it for self-defense!

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