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by Abigail Van Buren

Dad Takes Tickling Too Far by Refusing to Call It Quits

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Dave," likes to tickle our two boys, ages 7 and 8. He goes too far sometimes and they beg him to stop, but he won't. I have talked about it with my sons and even came up with a phrase -- "No more!" -- when they want him to quit. I have also tried to make it clear to Dave that he needs to stop when they say it. The problem is, he continues even after they say it.

When I try to stop him, he says he's just "playing with my boys" and that I'm interfering. Or, if they say stop, he gets irritated and calls them "sissies."

I know his tickling is hurtful because he has done it to me and left bruises. What can I do to make him stop this behavior? -- NOT TICKLED, NOBLESVILLE, IND.

DEAR NOT TICKLED: I'm not tickled, either, because tickling can be a form of abuse when it's taken too far. And when someone says, "Stop!" regardless of the reason, the person should lay off. Your husband's behavior is sadistic. If he bruised you, one look at the mark he left should have been a clue to him that he went too far.

I hope you realize that the man you're describing is a bully. The boys are not "sissies." They are simply outweighed. Your husband should find a contact sport, channel his aggression elsewhere, and pick on someone his own size.