DEAR ABBY: Five years ago, my husband and I adopted two siblings who have "special circumstances." The problem is my youngest child hates me and does everything possible to get me to leave.
Is it me she hates, or could it be her birth mother? She was 3 when she was removed from her birth parents and 6 when we brought her and her sister to live with us.
Do you think my child has forgotten how to love, or maybe she was never taught? -- TROUBLED MOM IN MINNESOTA
DEAR TROUBLED MOM: Not having met your daughter, I am unable to tell you what her problem is. However, I can tell you this: Before the situation goes any further, I urge you to have your little girl evaluated by a qualified mental health professional because that child's problem may not be an inability to love, but a bonding disorder.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Duane," had a serious drinking problem for more than 25 years. He has dried out. However, the past has come back to haunt us. His daughter, "Jackie," told me that when she was 2, Duane raped her. Jackie said she still dreams about wanting to kill him. I can't blame her, and I don't believe she's lying.
I do not plan to divorce Duane. I think Jackie's mother should have prosecuted him when it happened, but she failed her daughter just as my husband did.
Having been a victim of rape myself, I can relate to Jackie's pain. I was 6 when my dad began molesting me. I would like to be supportive, help to heal these wrongs and watch Jackie blossom into a wonderful, loving person -- a side of her she has already shown me she possesses.
I love Duane, but I'm not IN love with him. He can be a jerk sometimes. I think joint counseling might help. She and her brother both have terrible memories of "Dad." Since we've been married, we have had a child together.
How can I help mend their relationship and allow Duane to face up to what he did? Jackie suffers all the time because of it. This happened more than 30 years ago. -- "SAMANTHA" IN OHIO
DEAR "SAMANTHA": As well-meaning as you are, do not involve yourself in Jackie's healing process. She could benefit from professional counseling, but it should not be "joint" counseling until and unless she's ready for it.
Frankly, you could benefit from some counseling yourself. Cycles of abuse often repeat themselves in families, and by marrying Duane, you appear to have married a carbon copy of your own father/molester. Not knowing your husband, I do not know how much of a "jerk" Duane can be "sometimes." If you haven't already done so, you should talk to your own child about appropriate touching and ask whether he or she has been molested, too.
DEAR ABBY: Why do people think it's OK to go up to someone with long hair in a ponytail and pull it? I am currently growing my hair for Locks of Love. It makes me furious when people come up and jerk it. Not only is it painful, but isn't it a form of assault? What would be an appropriate response? -- HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
DEAR HAIR TODAY: Pulling someone's ponytail is a childish impulse, and yes, it is a form of assault -- but probably not prosecutable. The proper response is, "Ouch! Don't do that again. It hurts!"
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity 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