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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter With Absent Father Needs to Be Told the Truth

DEAR ABBY: Several months after I had my first daughter from a six-year relationship that ended sadly, I started flirting with a married man. (I realize now that I was still heartbroken and trying desperately to forget my ex.) The flirtation turned into a full-blown affair that resulted in another child. Her father isn't in the picture because the now-ex-wife (who still lives with him) forbids him from having any contact whatsoever with our daughter.

I admit I have lied by telling my little girl that her daddy is a workaholic, and that's the reason he doesn't see her when she asks about him. She is now 4. How or when do I tell her the truth? Would counseling help? -- ON THE SPOT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ON THE SPOT: You didn't mention whether your former lover is contributing financially to the support of his daughter, but if he isn't, please make sure he does. An attorney can help, and so can the child-support agency in your state.

And yes, it would also be a good idea to discuss this with a counselor to help you communicate to your daughter, in a way that's age-appropriate and won't damage her self-esteem, that Daddy won't be in the picture. It's important she knows she can trust her mother to give honest answers when she asks a question, because if she doubts it, it may create problems when she's older.

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