DEAR ABBY: I take care of two girls. I have never asked for money from their dad. Because they are poor, I go to great lengths to make sure they get the same advantages as everyone else.
I took the girls to the hair salon because I wanted them to feel pretty. When it was the youngest girl's turn, the stylist found lice in her hair! She was at what they call an "infestation period." After that it's an infection and then baldness.
I went to their father and asked about the lice. He knew the entire time that she had lice and did not warn me or my family. Abby, he knowingly put my loved ones at risk! He isn't a good parent and doesn't make the youngest shower or take lice treatments. I know he doesn't care about the lice, so he's probably making her go to school despite the lice policy. What should I do? -- INFESTED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR INFESTED: Among the "joys" of parenting is ensuring that one's children practice proper hygiene and their medical problems are treated. Father of the year this man isn't.
Of course he should have warned you so you could caution your children. He should also be watching his children more closely to be sure they shower regularly. Keep an eye on him, because he may be neglecting his girls in other ways. Could he be unaware that a head lice infestation can be treated? Because you are concerned about the girls' welfare, perhaps the school should be alerted.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as many as 12 million lice infestations occur in the United States each year, and they are NOT caused by poor hygiene. While they may be inconvenient and cause severe itching, the condition is treatable, and they do not generally cause baldness.
According to kidshealth.org, head lice are "spread mainly through head-to-head contact, but sharing clothing, bed linens, combs, brushes and hats also can pass them along. Kids are most prone to catching lice because they tend to have close physical contact with each other and share personal items."