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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Walks Fine Line Amid Safety and Fear for Daughter

DEAR ABBY: I have two beautiful daughters, ages 3 and 4. My concern is that my younger daughter is very friendly. No matter where we go, she says "hi" to everyone she sees, strangers included. With all her positive energy, she has the type of personality that attracts attention when she walks into a room. I love her for that, but I'm also worried she's too friendly.

Some of our neighbors are male, and she wants to hug them and sit on their laps. This alarms me, and I'm not sure what to do. With how things are nowadays, you never know who you can trust. I don't want to dampen her confident and upbeat disposition, but I want to teach her why it's not OK to do this. Sometimes I wonder if she does it because her father isn't in the picture, so when she sees an older man, she wants that bond. Please help, Abby. -- PROTECTIVE IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR PROTECTIVE: Your daughter appears to be a lovely little girl. I agree you shouldn't dampen her outgoing and affectionate nature. She should not be walking around by herself without supervision. Explain to her what appropriate behavior is and is not. This is an ongoing conversation that includes more information as she is able to understand it. Ultimately, you are her parent, and you must determine what is appropriate in her interactions with all people, regardless of gender.