DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about the letter from "Angry Mama," whose 9-year-old daughter, "Kristy," kept being addressed as "Weirdo" by her friend's father. You advised "limiting exposure" to this man, but I would like to raise a deeper issue:
What is Kristy learning from her mom's response to the insult? To bear it silently and passively? (Many women fear a confrontation.) Please tell Kristy that it is OK -- even essential -- for a person of any age to be able to say, "You may not speak to me that way. It's rude and I don't like it."
Her mother's apparent silence to this dad sends a message even more debilitating than his "weirdo" insults that the child will internalize as she grows.
I don't mean to be critical. I dread confrontation, too. But I did learn early on, from a wonderful therapist, that my son will learn how to respond to the world and to stand up for himself when necessary by watching ME. -- AWARE MAMA, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.
DEAR AWARE MAMA: The time and money you spent on the couch were not wasted. That's an important lesson, and all parents should heed it. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Kristy's" mother is correct in not allowing her daughter to be subjected to that kind of treatment. It is not only inappropriate, but it could possibly be the father's way of "grooming" the girl for possible sexual abuse.
Provoking Kristy with offensive name-calling could be his way of manipulating her so she will do "anything" to win his approval. Not only should that girl stay away from him, but someone should be concerned about what's going on with HIS daughter.
If there is a mother in that home, she needs to be cautioned. If there is no mother, someone needs to reach out to the man's daughter and make sure she has someone in whom to confide.
As the mother of three daughters who were abused by a family member using the same tactic, I urge "Angry Mama" to act on the red flags she has recognized. -- PROTECTIVE MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER
DEAR PROTECTIVE: I advised the mother that it was her job to protect her daughter from abuse. I said that the friend's father appears to be insensitive, immature and a bit weird himself -- and that it's three strikes in my book.
It did not occur to me that he might also be a pedophile. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with me and my readers, and for the warning.