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by Abigail Van Buren

History of Addiction Clouds Dad's Future With Daughters

DEAR ABBY: My fiancee has two daughters (14 and 11) from a previous marriage. Their dad, "Brett," was just arrested for his fourth DUI, the second within a year. The girls don't trust him anymore, and their image of him has changed greatly.

We have always encouraged the girls to stay with their dad on "his" days, but when they do, Brett rarely does anything with them, and he berates them. I know he misses his girls, and his siblings have told us the girls need to get past this because "tomorrow is not guaranteed." I understand. I live my life on that premise. But if Brett isn't willing to change, then why should we continue to encourage his being in their lives? He cares only about his image, not the actual relationship with his daughters.

He has a history with drugs and alcohol, and in the last 12 months, he has been fired from three different jobs. This is not the role model the girls need. I know I'm not their father, but it kills me seeing them hurt. Should we encourage them to still visit him? Or do we let them decide? I'm a soon-to-be stepfather who wants only what is best for the girls. -- PARENTING IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR PARENTING: When there is a divorce with children involved, custody arrangements are usually dictated by the court. Your fiancee's daughters may not have much choice but to visit their father on "his" days. That said, the custody arrangement can be altered if it becomes necessary.

I agree that someone with four DUIs is not a great role model, and he could be a danger to them if he is still allowed to drive. Encourage the girls to keep you informed of what transpires during their visits with their father. I disagree with the relatives who say they must get past their father's neglect and verbal abuse.

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