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Talk to stepmother first

Dear Abby: My father is turning 60 this year, and I want to make him a photo album with pictures from throughout his life. However, Dad is widowed and remarried, so I'm having a hard time deciding what to do with respect to my mother. They were married 25 years before she died, and they loved each other very much. They raised two children together, and she was an important part of his life.

At the same time, I have a feeling that including pictures of Mom may upset my stepmother. While I am not close with her, I don't want to intentionally hurt her feelings. What should I do?

-- Laura in St. Louis

Dear Laura: You're asking an intelligent question and I commend you for your sensitivity. If the photo album is intended to be a surprise for your father, consider talking to your stepmother about the idea. It will give you an indication of how such a gift would be perceived by her.

> Daughter a co-conspirator

Dear Abby: I'm 24 and love my parents. Mom confided to me that she has been seeing a high school flame behind my father's back. She claims she loves this man and said she has slept with him, but she doesn't want to leave the security my father provides for her. She swore me to secrecy about her affair.

Meanwhile, my father has started talking to me about their marital problems. He doesn't understand why Mother isn't happy. I feel like I should tell him, but that would betray my mother. At the same time, not telling him what I know is betraying him. What should I do?

-- Caught in the Middle

Dear Caught in the Middle: Your parents should not be confiding their marital difficulties to you. They should attempt to resolve them by communicating with each other -- preferably with the help of a licensed marriage counselor. That your mother would turn you into a co-conspirator in her affair is despicable. Give her a deadline to level with your father or tell her that you will. He deserves to know the truth.