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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Finds Neither Time Nor Money for Love Child

DEAR ABBY: My beautiful 9-month-old daughter, "Lyric," is the result of an affair. Her father, "James," has never seen her, except in photographs. His family has no idea she exists. When I send pictures, he promises to visit "soon" -- but I'm not supposed to ask when because he "just doesn't know right now."

I feel it's my fault Lyric is growing up without a father. My parents dote on her, and they are furious that James promised to make sure we were taken care of but hasn't followed through "for financial reasons."

I have never taken him to court for child support (James does send a little) because I'm afraid if I do, he'll never come to see Lyric. I worry about her future because my dad was estranged from us when we were little, and his absence influenced some of the worst choices I have made in my life.

Why would James promise to visit but never make the effort? Why continue the charade? I'm afraid my daughter will blame me for not having a dad when she's older.

I have considered taking her to see James unexpectedly (he and his wife are currently separated) so I can tell her I did everything in my power to get him involved. My parents say I should be happy I don't have to share her, and not to take her because he has broken so many promises to me.

I have been upset about this ever since Lyric was born, and my depression seems to be getting worse. The guilt and regret are eating me alive. Please help. -- DESPONDENT IN VIRGINIA

DEAR DESPONDENT: James may not have been telling you the complete truth. He continues the charade because it keeps you frozen in a holding pattern. Do not be surprised to learn that he is not separated from his wife, which could be the reason he hasn't visited.

The first thing you should do is consult your doctor and discuss the depression you have experienced since your daughter's birth. It could be caused less by the guilty conscience than a postpartum hormone imbalance. If it's the latter, it's treatable. Once that's done, consult a lawyer to ensure that Lyric will be provided for financially.

Truthful people do what they say. Because James doesn't, stop listening to what he says and focus on what he does -- which is almost nothing. He may say he wants to see his daughter, but face the fact that Lyric may reach adulthood before he gets around to it. And please don't hold your breath waiting for James to stand up and act like a man, because frankly, he doesn't appear to be much of one.

DEAR ABBY: My wife accuses me of "acting pretentious" when we are dinner guests at a friend's house and I warm my plate in the microwave. What am I supposed to do when the food has gone cold or lukewarm, and I want my meal to be hot? -- SOME LIKE IT HOT, SAN JOSE, CALIF.

DEAR SOME LIKE IT HOT: Your wife may be afraid that by taking your plate into the kitchen because the food is too cold for your tastes, you are insulting your hostess. But I am with you, because I like my food hot, too.

The way I would handle it would be to quietly ask the hostess if she minded me taking the food into the kitchen and "zapping it" for a minute or two. A good hostess wants her guests to be comfortable and will probably offer to do it for you.

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 only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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