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by Abigail Van Buren

Boyfriend Won't Stop Using Bathroom as His Man Cave

DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl whose parents are divorced. When I was a baby, I lived with my grandma, but my mom took me back when I was 7 or 8.

My mother abused me while I was living with her, but nobody knew it. When I was 12, I was sent to my dad's for Christmas. By then he was on his third marriage. His new wife already had two kids.

While I was visiting, Mom called to make trouble for me. She said she was worried I might be messing around with boys she didn't approve of, and threatened to "beat me bloody" when she got hold of me. My dad went to court to see if I could stay with him permanently, and it turned out I could.

Now I'm having trouble with my stepmom and her kids. She thinks her two girls are little angels. She's mean to me and treats me like I'm doing something wrong all the time. I feel so alone.

Mom and Grandma want nothing to do with me. So, Abby, I have a few questions: Should I have a bad feeling about staying with my dad because of my stepmom? And, if I ever have my own kids, will I end up treating them like my mom treated me? Thank you for listening. -- SAD TEEN, NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR SAD TEEN: There are many loving and caring stepparents. I'm sorry that you have been shortchanged by the women in your life, all of whom may be less mature than you are at your tender age. You will have to look elsewhere for the mentoring you need from an adult -- a teacher, a counselor, a coach, or even the mother of one of your friends.

Please don't be afraid that you will automatically repeat the cycle of abuse that you have suffered. You have learned firsthand how not to treat others. Many adults are able to give their children the parenting they didn't experience themselves. (My hat is off to all of them.)

P.S. Perhaps fathers should not automatically assume that second (or third) wives will be able to accept and love their children from a prior marriage. Blending families should be done with eyes wide open.