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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of three months, "Josh," and I are having a disagreement. I was married to my ex-husband for seven years and had two beautiful sons with him. I am no longer in love with my ex and we do not spend any time alone together. However, after our divorce six years ago, we agreed it would be best to remain on good terms for the sake of our boys. We spend holidays, birthdays and special events jointly with our sons.

Josh has a very difficult time with this. He thinks that once you're divorced, it's over. You don't sit together at functions. Josh doesn't even want him to come into the house to pick up the boys.

I care deeply for Josh and don't want to lose him over this, but I'm at my wit's end. I want my children to know that even though their parents are no longer married, we can be civil and get along. Can you help me with this? -- "STUCK" IN NEW YORK

DEAR "STUCK": I commend you and your ex-husband for your maturity and determination that your children will see you as a united front, even though you're no longer married. It saddens me that the man with whom you are now involved is insecure and unable to appreciate the wisdom of your decision.

If your boyfriend is willing, I'd recommend some couples counseling to help him calm his jealousy. Please discuss it with him. However, if he refuses, then he has already told you what you need to know about the future of your relationship and the degree to which he values it.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 30-year-old mother of two. I have been having serious issues with my daughter, who is 9. She has come to me asking questions like, "What is rape?" and "Why does it happen all the time?" She wants to know what she can do to prevent being raped.

I was raped as a child, and twice more in my teens. I have a big problem even talking to my children about sex. How can I get over this very uncomfortable feeling and be able to answer my children's questions honestly and without having to say "not now," or trying to change the subject? -- NEEDS HELP IN FLORIDA

DEAR NEEDS HELP: You're asking intelligent questions. The answer is to get psychological counseling to help you deal with the unresolved issues related to the rapes you suffered as a young girl. Your physician should be able to refer you to a licensed therapist. After that, there are books at the library that can help you to answer your daughter's questions. Please don't wait any longer. Do it now.

DEAR ABBY: My adult children complain that when they send me photos of their kids who are missing teeth, I photo-edit them and replace the teeth. I am guilty as charged, but I think it looks better -- so why not do it?

They claim that part of the "charm" of the children's photos is the missing teeth, the cowlicks, the twisted tie, etc. In this electronic age, who is right? -- DEDE IN TACOMA, WASH.

DEAR DEDE: They are. The pictures they are sending you are not those of child models. Your grandchildren are normal children, and normal children are works in progress. My question to you is, why can't you accept them for exactly who they are in their current stage of development?

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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