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by Abigail Van Buren

Dad Takes Tickling Too Far by Refusing to Call It Quits

DEAR ABBY: I am in a touchy situation. I am recently divorced and my 7-year-old daughter idolizes and deeply misses her father. My ex is in prison serving time for molesting my older daughter, who was his stepchild.

Obviously, my younger girl, "Karen," has no clue why her father is in prison. She still thinks that when he gets out, he'll be part of her life. She's too young to hear the truth, but how else can I explain why Daddy will never be part of her life again? I don't want her to resent me for keeping her from her father, but I'm afraid that's exactly what will happen.

Abby, please help me. I'm torn about keeping Karen happy, but also keeping her safe. -- TORN IN TEXAS

DEAR TORN: I know you want to protect Karen, but that may not be realistic. If your older daughter is living at home, there's a possibility that she has told her little sister what happened. Karen IS old enough to understand the difference between acceptable touching and what is not. If she doesn't already know, then for her safety you should have that talk with her.

Your ex-husband will, I hope, be away for a very long time. When Karen brings him up, repeat that to her. She'll be older and fully able to understand by the time her father is ready for release. And by then you will have told her all the facts.