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by Abigail Van Buren

Girl Assaulted by Friend's Dad Doesn't Know What to Do Next

DEAR ABBY: I read with interest the letter from "Michigan Grandmother," whose son had recently divorced and whose grandchildren were starting to steal. In your reply you advised, "When couples separate, they still have a joint responsibility to the children they brought into this world."

I think that on some level, children know this. Often, when parents are having trouble in their lives (divorce in this case), children will act out in some manner -- such as stealing -- so that family members MUST come together to handle the crisis. The grandchildren in this instance may not actually expect their parents to reunite, but their stealing is "rewarded" by seeing their parents involved and coming together to work through the problem. In this way, they are once again a family -- even if it's just for a little while.

Time and love are great healers. Your advice to "Michigan Grandmother" was on the money. Spend more time with the boys until they have adjusted to the divorce. If they don't make the adjustment, family counseling is the next step. -- JULI HERREN, ST. PETE BEACH, FLA.

DEAR JULI: You said it very well. I agree.