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What Daddy Doesn't Know Won't Hurt Him

January 15, 1999

Linda, just three years old, loves to go to Grandma’s house. The first thing she does when she runs through the door is ask for the candy. Daddy won't let her eat candy, but Mama doesn't see anything wrong with it. Linda knows Mama and Daddy have differences of opinion about things. Daddy says “No” about a lot of things, but Mama is more fun. She knows it is not really bad, for she just laughs and says, “Daddy doesn't need to know; what he doesn't know won't hurt him.” Linda heard her mama tell Grandma this, so Grandma lets the little girls eat candy at her house. Grandma says she ate candy when she was young and it didn’t hurt her. And Grandma says she “wouldn't want to deprive her daughter of a good old American tradition. There are some things daddies just don’t know anything about.”

Linda loves her daddy. He likes to take her with him when he goes places, and there is nothing Linda likes better. Linda is such a good little girl; everyone says so. She is so obedient and kind to others. She would never dare pitch a fit. Everyone should be so blessed, having a little darling like Linda.

But a dangerous seed has already sprouted in Linda. Its root has begun to grow, spreading its ugly, entwining, choking tentacles around the very soul of this precious child. Mama planted that seed with her laughter; she waters those roots with her deceit; she fertilizes that unseen plant with her carelessness concerning Daddy's wishes. Mama is cultivating the plant that one day will strangle the truth from Linda’s heart and life. Mama thinks what Daddy doesn't know won't hurt him, but someday it will break his heart. Little girls get to be big girls with bigger issues than eating sweets. Other things get to be “sweeter.” When the day comes that Mama and Daddy discover Linda is keeping secrets from both of them, things she knows they are just “old fashion about, and wouldn’t understand” no one will laugh, not even Grandma. But then Linda says to her friends, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” Somebody lied. It’s hurting them—deeper than anything ever has.

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