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by Abigail Van Buren

Abuse Suffered as a Child May Drive Mom's Behavior

DEAR ABBY: Regarding the letter from "Disgruntled Grandparent" (Dec. 11), whose daughter insisted on always being present when her children were with her mother and father, I have a theory.

My sister would always be present when her children were with our parents. This was because my father had sexually abused her and the rest of us when we were children. She didn't want the same to happen to her children, but also didn't want to deprive them of knowing their grandparents, so that's how she managed it.

Grandma may not know, or understand if she does know, but I'm guessing the daughter is making sure she's present for similar reasons. She wants to ensure it doesn't happen to her kids while continuing to let them interact. These sorts of family dynamics are not black and white, so you manage as best you can with people who you inexplicably still love (or love part of them) but who can't be trusted not to cause great harm.

I recognized that strategy as identical to my sister's, so thought I ought to flag that possible explanation for you. -- ABBY READER IN NEW ZEALAND

DEAR READER: That makes perfect sense, and thank you for writing. "Disgruntled's" letter received a large response and an overwhelming majority of those who wrote suggested a similar scenario. My heart goes out to you for what you and your siblings experienced as children. I hope you were able to get help and support in dealing with the abuse you suffered.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Abuse