DEAR ABBY: "Resentful in Illinois" described her husband as so obsessed with his cousin's little daughter that he acts as though she is his child -- saying he is "in withdrawal" if he doesn't see her often.
"Resentful" confided that she would love to have a child of her own and was hurt because her husband kept postponing it. She asked you if she was overreacting. You suggested that the child might really be her husband's.
Abby, you missed one other important possibility. "Resentful's" husband may be involved with that child in an inappropriate relationship. Statistics show that 80 percent of sexual abuse of children occurs in a relationship with someone the child, the mother and other family members trust.
"Resentful" should watch for any signs that the relationship has gone too far. If the husband is resistant to marriage counseling, it could be a red flag.
I am a pediatrician. I deal with some of these same situations in my medical practice. -- DISTURBED PHYSICIAN IN CINCINNATI
DEAR DISTURBED PHYSICIAN: Yours was one of several hundred letters and e-mails I received echoing the same suspicion. Although "Resentful in Illinois" wrote anonymously, I'm printing your letter because I thought she should see your take on the situation. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: In your response to "Resentful in Illinois," you mentioned the man's excessive attachment to his niece. The child of his cousin is his "first cousin once removed," not his niece. -- MOLLY IN DENVER
DEAR MOLLY: Thank you for straightening out my genealogy terminology.