DEAR ABBY: Please remind parents who are divorcing not to forget to have that all-important conversation with their sons and daughters in which they assure them that the divorce has nothing to do with them.
Don't assume they "know." Children need to be told that their parents will be there for them, even though their parents won't be living together. And it's vital that the parents follow through by being available to their children physically, emotionally and financially as much as possible.
My father abandoned my three siblings and me in all three ways. At 44, after three failed relationships, I still hurt because my father never told me the divorce was not my fault, and because he never stood by us. With the help of counseling, I've stopped blaming my father and myself for my failed relationships. I have finally made peace with my dad. I don't respect him or the decisions he made, but I do love him. He is who he is, and I realize now that it's time to get on with my life. -- ON THE MEND IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ON THE MEND: That's good advice for divorcing parents everywhere. As I say in my teen booklet, the real victims of divorce or separation are too often the innocent bystanders -- the children. I tell the children of divorce: "Don't make your burden harder to bear by feeling in any way guilty about the split. Children are seldom, if ever, the cause -- or even a factor -- in a divorce or separation."