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Parents Must Be Told of Sister's Abusive Past

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Hans," and I have decided not to allow our two children to visit their grandparents' home while my sister-in-law, "Becky," is living there. The reason for our decision is that Becky molested Hans for about four years while they were kids.

Becky has kids of her own now and has said some things that are questionable. We feel our children would be better off without her in their lives, just to be safe. Hans' parents do not know what happened. He simply told them he has "good reason" for not allowing his children over, and not much else was said.

My problem is, my in-laws are blaming ME for the children not going over there, and now refuse to visit with us at our house. Hans' mother barely speaks to him anymore. They live only 15 minutes away and both are under 50 and in good health. Were we wrong in our decision? Do you think Hans should tell his parents why we don't visit? As with many cases of sexual abuse, Becky convinced Hans that no one would believe him if he "told," and unfortunately, that thought has stuck with him. -- DESPERATE TO MEND THE FAMILY

DEAR DESPERATE: You made the right decision in keeping your children away from Becky, but you made a mistake in not telling the grandparents exactly why. They should immediately be told the truth -- if only so they can make sure that the children under their roof now have not been molested. And if you have any reason to believe they would turn a blind eye to it, you should share your concerns with Child Protective Services.

DEAR ABBY: One of my best friends, "Patty," just became engaged. I'm happy for her. Patty was one of my bridesmaids and even acted as unofficial maid of honor. She loaned me a small amount of money, which I haven't been able to pay back yet.

Patty called me the other day. When we spoke, she mentioned the money and asked when I would repay the loan. I told her I plan to pay her back as soon as I can. Then she told me her mother is having reservations about me being one of her bridesmaids. She said her mom wanted to make sure I knew they couldn't afford to pay for my dress.

The thing is, I already knew I'd have to pay for it. I'm the only bridesmaid she has said that to, and I feel insulted. I was already planning on buying my own dress. My husband now refuses to go to the wedding, and I'm having doubts about even being in it. The wedding is scheduled for next year, so I can't blame it on pre-wedding jitters. What should I do? Should I suck up my pride, or should I refuse to be a bridesmaid? I'm really hurt by what she said. -- ALMOST-BROKE BRIDESMAID

DEAR ALMOST BROKE: Has it occurred to you that Patty's mother's concerns might be valid? If you can't afford to repay the "small amount of money" your friend loaned you, how do you plan to pay for your dress? I see no reason why you should be offended that she raised the subject. If you have owed the money for more than a month, the bride and her mother have every right to be concerned.

Rather than being offended, I think you should be apologetic, set up a repayment plan NOW, and if you can't afford to be a member of the wedding party, face that fact and admit it so it doesn't create a problem at the last minute.

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