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Dear Abby: Should boy know his dad’s in jail?

DEAR ABBY: My son, “Jimmy,” is 8. His father and I are divorced, and he is facing jail time. Jimmy sees him every other weekend.

I’m planning on telling Jimmy the truth, although I’m sure his dad will want me to lie and say he needs to “work out of town” for a while, or something like that. I know it will be hard for my boy to deal with.

I also wonder what he should tell other people. I worry that if he tells his friends the truth (and they tell their parents), Jimmy might not be invited over to play quite as often, or kids will tease him. But I feel like it’s sending a mixed message if I tell him it’s OK to lie about this particular issue.

How should I handle this? — TO TELL THE TRUTH

DEAR TRUTH: Jimmy needs to know that his mother tells the truth. If you lie to him about this, or anything else for that matter, when he learns the truth — as he will eventually — he will start to question the veracity of everything you have told him.

This is a lot for an 8-year-old to deal with, I know, but I vote for keeping the boy informed.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for two months. I think I’m being too clingy, but he won’t tell me if I am.

He says when I ask for reassurance, it drives him away. Every time we do anything remotely sexual, he tells me he feels guilty about it.

He is sweet and caring. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I have never been so in love. I don’t want to lose him. What should I do? — IN LOVE IN ILLINOIS

DEAR IN LOVE: This may seem counterintuitive, but take a step back. Stop asking for reassurance.

Because he says he feels guilty about doing anything remotely sexual, the next time he makes a move, be less willing. Tell him you don’t want him to do anything that he will be sorry about later, and remind him what he said the last time.

It may improve your relationship because, from your description, he appears to be immature and not ready for a romance.

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law is very ill and is preparing for the end. I feel bad for my spouse — this will be a great loss.

However, my mother-in-law and I have never been close. She has been very negative about me, mostly behind my back. I have tolerated her and complained only to my spouse.

When the end comes, I know many people will express sympathy for “my loss.” I won’t be feeling remorse, but a sense of relief. Is there a kind way of stating that it is not a sad time for me because of our strained relationship? — THE END IS NEAR

DEAR END: Much as you might like to express those feelings publicly, I don’t advise it. It would be inappropriate and reflect badly on you.

If someone offers condolences, say, “Thank you, how kind of you,” and keep the rest to yourself. If you do otherwise, you will be validating every bad thing that woman said behind your back.

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

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)