DEAR ABBY: I am a 28-year-old divorced man dating a wonderful 24-year-old woman. She lights up my life and is very kind to my daughter and me. I love her very much. However, there is a problem – her 7-year-old son.

Everything seemed fine at first. He got along pretty well with my 5-year-old daughter, playing and having a good time. As time went on, though, my daughter told me about strange sexual comments he made to her. At first I thought he just had a dirty mouth, as his mother lacks somewhat in the discipline department. But this is turning into a problem.

My daughter recently reported that he told her he was going “to have sex with her.” He has been investigated by Child Protective Services on two occasions for similar behavior around other children.

So now the children are no longer allowed to be together at all because I refuse to have my daughter talked to like that by anyone. I have her one week on, one week off.

I cannot imagine combining families at this point when her child has so many problems. It’s not that I don’t want to help him; it’s that I need to protect my daughter. I love his mother very much, though, and feel terrible about what she’s going through. Is this relationship worth working for, or is this little family “damaged goods”? – WONDERING IN WASHINGTON

DEAR WONDERING: B
ecause you say you love this woman, the answer to both of your questions is “yes.” You have described a boy who appears not to understand what boundaries are, and who very likely has either been sexualized (molested) or exposed in some other way to adult sexual activity. The child needs professional help, and I hope he is receiving it.

I am not sure that the children should be entirely separated. However, they should not be together unless they are supervised by an adult at all times.

Does this mean you should not marry this woman? My advice is to take a wait-and-see attitude. It’s not like you are racing down the home stretch toward a finish line. The mother needs parenting classes and the boy needs therapy. If both are successful, you might have a happy life together.

DEAR ABBY: I am 14, and my best friend’s brother died recently. The football season will be starting soon, and one of our favorite things to do is hang out at football games. My friend mentioned that it’s going to be hard for her, since her brother used to play. (Her brother was 17.) He was smart and funny and a great football player.

I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how I can make this year her best one ever, and what to do when we are at football games and she is feeling sad. – CARING FRIEND IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR CARING FRIEND:
The kindest thing you could do for your friend is let her know that if she wants to talk about her brother, you will be there to listen to what she needs to say. Too often, people are afraid to listen and try to change the subject because it makes them uncomfortable.

You can also make a point of including your friend in any activities you can share, but if she doesn’t feel up to joining you, tell her you understand and will ask her again.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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