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by Abigail Van Buren

Teen's Affection for Mom's Boyfriend Raises Eyebrows

DEAR ABBY: Our divorced daughter has been dating "Brian," a man she met online, for a little over a year. My husband and I are concerned about the behavior of our 13-year-old granddaughter, "Lolita," toward him. Lolita is naive in many ways and unaware of the pitfalls she may encounter. She's constantly sitting on Brian's lap, hugging him, or talking to him in very close proximity.

We feel that our daughter should have a talk with Lolita and explain that a "young woman" who is rapidly developing should not act this way with a man who is not her father. Failing that, we feel that, as the adult, Brian should discourage it -- which we haven't seen him do.

On a trip to the beach a few months ago, their "play" in the ocean looked more like a couple than a girl with a potential stepdad.

Our daughter also has an 8-year-old girl to whom Brian does not show the same kind of attention. I don't want to make unwarranted accusations about something that may be entirely innocent. It could seriously jeopardize our relationship with our daughter. Do we have a valid concern, or are we just two Puritanical old fogies? -- FEELING UNEASY IN FLORIDA

DEAR FEELING UNEASY: It would be interesting to know how involved in your granddaughters' lives their father has been. If the answer is "Not very," then it's possible that Lolita is trying to elicit from Brian the kind of affection she has craved from her dad. She may not realize that boundaries are being crossed unless it's explained to her. Because what you saw aroused your concern, you should certainly mention it to your daughter, and urge her to have "that talk" with Lolita.

It concerns me that Brian does not treat both of your granddaughters equally. He may be flattered by the attention he receives from Lolita. Or, he could be flirting with her with an eye to molesting her. Not knowing Brian or his background, I can't predict what might or might not happen. Has it occurred to you to Google him or check the state sex offender Web site? If you haven't, your daughter should.