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Potential for sexual abuse disturbs couple

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dear Annie: My father is a registered sex offender. My wife and I have a 2-year-old girl. We used to let my father and stepmother take our daughter to church regularly without us, but after a local pediatrician suspected sexual abuse when she had what appeared to us as nothing more than diaper rash, my wife and I decided to limit his contact with her.

When told of this arrangement, my father acted like a child. We are not saying he cannot see his granddaughter — only that one of us needs to be present at all times. In the 10 months since we made this decision, my father has spoken to me only once.

I am just trying to be a responsible parent. I hoped he would understand this is as much for his protection as my daughter’s. I refuse to drag my wife and children through a potentially messy situation and possibly lose our children. Am I being unreasonable? Tim in Bakersfield

Dear Tim: We want to be sure we understand. Your father did not actually abuse your daughter — the pediatrician made an incorrect assumption — but you worry others may think the worst because you let Dad take her to church with his wife.

If your father is a registered sex offender because he dropped his trousers at the football game, you are overreacting. If, however, he sexually abused young children, your daughter should not be in his presence without one of her parents at her side. Period. If he pouts, tough.

Dear Annie: I am the mother of a kindergartener and I also work part time from home. When I am not working, I take care of my house and family, running errands, etc. It makes for a full but lonely day.

I have no close friends. My mom lives three hours away and my sister, who is probably my best friend, is eight hours away. If I want to visit her, my husband makes me feel guilty about abandoning my chores for a long weekend and the costs involved.

I would be happy just to have a friend in the same town. However, even if I met someone I wanted to know better, I wouldn’t have time to nourish a new friendship. Besides that, I guess you could say I’m a little scared. It’s been a long time since I’ve had any friends and I don’t know how to get there. Any advice for a lonely housewife who is stuck in a rut? Lisa in Idaho

Dear Lisa: Your child’s school provides the perfect opportunity to make friends. Invite a classmate over for a play date and be sure to chat with the parent who drops off and picks up the child. You could even invite parents in for a cup of tea. If you carpool, arrive early enough to talk to the other parents waiting for their children to get in or out of school. Involve yourself in a few school activities that will allow you to interact with other parents (volunteer for field trips or join the PTO). It won’t take a tremendous amount of time and the rewards will be worth it.

Dear Annie: This is for “The First Wife,” whose husband left her for another woman. She asked how it would affect his relationship with their children.

Divorce is every child’s worse nightmare. What my ex and I did was sit down with them, talk about it and cry together. We made it absolutely clear that it was in no way their fault. Next, we made a pact with each other that neither of us would say anything derogatory about the other to the kids. This was our divorce, not theirs. I made sure he was invited to all celebrations and eventually included his girlfriend (now wife) and her son. It was not easy. Not long ago, my daughter said, “Mom, at worst, your divorce was an inconvenience for us.” Did the Best I Could

Dear Did the Best: We wish all divorcing parents would handle the situation with such class and dignity.

XE-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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