DEAR ABBY: At our Halloween party last year, which included both parents and children, my brother and I somewhat jokingly debated the two presidential candidates. My brother was for Bush. I was for Gore.
Sometime during the evening, my then 11-year-old daughter asked me why her uncle was for Bush and I was for Gore. I explained why I was for Gore and gave her four or five reasons. She asked again why her uncle was for Bush. I told her to go ask him.
During the merriment of the evening, I forgot about the subject until we were on the way home and my daughter asked me how I could think that killing a little baby was OK. I was speechless! I asked her where she had gotten such an idea. She said her uncle had told her that Gore thought it was OK to kill babies, and if I was voting for him, so did I. I tried to explain about a woman's right to choose -- and that I DO think a woman should have that choice, but I was so shocked I hardly knew how to defend myself.
It has been nearly a year now. Ever since that night my daughter has been very distant toward me. I have tried to talk to her about it several times, but she refuses to discuss it.
I'm at my wit's end. My daughter is now 12 and our closeness has been destroyed. I found out her class made Mother's Day cards, but my daughter never gave hers to me. There are no more hugs and kisses at bedtime -- just "good night."
What can I do? I love my daughter with all my heart. I'd give anything to have her the way she was before. -- DESTROYED MOTHER IN DALLAS
DEAR DESTROYED MOTHER: Sit your daughter down and tell her that the subject of a woman's right to choose is a controversial one, and that it is OK if she disagrees with you about it. It's a topic about which everyone has to make up her (or his) own mind. Her uncle thinks the way he does, and you love him in spite of it.
Explain that you are not in favor of killing babies, but that you feel it is important for a woman to have the right to choose. Some women's lives have been saved because they were legally empowered to make that choice. It wasn't always the case.
Tell her that as she grows older, you want her to examine her reasons for feeling the way she does about this subject -- but you also want her to be open to different points of view, because there are more than one, and people have a right to their own opinions. It may not heal the breach your brother has caused, but it's a beginning.
And finally, I urge you to talk to your daughter's uncle about this entire situation. He could help a great deal by reinforcing what you have said -- and he should. He was out of line from the beginning for having given your daughter his inflammatory answer to her question.