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Mother Battles Her Own Fears While Raising Happy Daughter

DEAR ABBY: I had an awful childhood. After I was finally taken into state custody, I cycled through six different foster homes. Because of it I have struggled with mental health issues for as long as I can remember.

I'm 28 now and have a 4-year-old daughter who is everything to me. The problem is, I'm terrified of strangers. As a child I saw firsthand how evil people can be, and I am almost paralyzed with fear because of my hyper-vigilance. I fight the battle every day.

I am in counseling and I'm trying, but I am afraid I am going to make my daughter fear the world. She's in Head Start and loves it. Anyone who meets her comments on how happy and outgoing she is, but I don't know how to walk the tightrope between keeping her safe and making her afraid. Any advice would be appreciated. -- TERRIFIED OF STRANGERS

DEAR TERRIFIED: Considering your past, I think you're being a wonderful mother. You are getting professional help and for that I applaud you. You are realistic about your issues, and your daughter appears to be thriving.

You may need counseling for some time to avoid becoming overprotective and to allow your daughter to develop into a healthy adult. While your fears are the result of your history, they do not have to become a part of hers.

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