DEAR ABBY: I am the confused grandmother of a darling 7-year-old granddaughter I'll call Mary. Her father never married my daughter, but there is no question about who Mary's father is because she is the very image of him.
He has never paid child support because he refused to acknowledge paternity, but he drops off a birthday gift and another gift around Christmastime. Mary frequently wants to call him and constantly asks her mother and me why she can't see her daddy more often. He gave her his telephone number once when he was in a good mood and told her she could call him, but he rarely returns her telephone calls.
Abby, what can her mother and I tell this sweet child about her father without hurting her feelings? I need some answers to pass along to her mother. -- ILLINOIS GRANNY
DEAR GRANNY: Stick to the truth and don't try to spare Mary's feelings by making up excuses for her father's obvious lack of interest in her. While it may be painful for her, she's far better off dealing with reality than a well-intentioned fabrication.