DEAR ABBY: I was recently married. I have a daughter, "Courtney," from a previous relationship. Things were great before the wedding. We even included Courtney in the planning. Afterward, however, things turned sour.
Courtney kept causing problems with my husband, and they both looked to me to work it out. I felt like I was being torn in two. No matter what I said to either of them, or if I just left the room to force them to work it out without me, things only got worse.
I left my husband over this. I was stressed out. Everyone was telling me I should not let my daughter dictate what was going on in my life. But I'm not going to force my child to live in a home where she does not feel love and does not want to be. Did I make the right decision? I still love my husband, but I must look out for what is best for my daughter. -- SECOND THOUGHTS IN BLUE SPRINGS, MO.
DEAR SECOND THOUGHTS: Of course you have to look out for what is best for your child. Although you may have done the right thing in leaving, however, I think you left too soon.
Courtney had never had to share her mother's love and attention with anyone before. She was fighting for total possession of her parent, which wasn't healthy for either of you. Before leaving your husband, it would have been better to try family counseling to determine if a licensed professional could improve the level of communication, tolerance and understanding between the "combatants."
DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old female who lives in a large family. There are two brothers, two sisters, three cousins, one aunt, two uncles, my parents and both my grandparents living here -- so things are very open.
When I was 5, one of my uncles started molesting me. It lasted for eight years. After I was 6 or 7, the other uncle began raping me almost daily, and it went on for the next eight years.
I told my parents about the molestation, and we went to the police. But because they didn't do anything about the molestation, I didn't tell them about the everyday rape.
It has been three years since it stopped happening, and my uncle has told me he is sorry. I feel I need someone to talk to about this, but I don't want to tell them who did it. I really need some advice. -- HURTING IN HAYWARD, CALIF.
DEAR HURTING: Pick up the phone and call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). The toll-free number is (800) 656-4673. Counselors there will guide you to specialized services that can help you.
Their entire focus is on helping the victims of sexual assault. No one will "force" you to reveal anything you don't want to.
However, after counseling, you may decide to tell the authorities what was done to you in order to prevent your uncle from raping and assaulting other vulnerable family members or neighbors. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you will.
DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine is a single father with a 12-year-old daughter. The mother is no longer involved in their lives.
I am concerned because the 12-year-old sleeps in the same bed as her father. Although he claims nothing is going on, I believe -- and have stated -- that it is not a good idea. What do you think? I think it would help him to hear someone else's opinion. -- JANE IN BURLINGAME, CALIF.
DEAR JANE: I agree the girl is too old to be sleeping with her dad. A 12-year-old girl is well on her way to becoming a young woman, and sharing a bed with her father could be too stimulating, for both of them. If he has further doubts about this, he should consult his daughter's pediatrician.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600