DEAR ABBY: When I was in third grade, I moved in with my dad because my mother didn't want me anymore. She said, "You'll be going to a foster home if you don't get out of my house right now."
I didn't want to stay with her because she was abusing me. So was her fiance. At the time, I was living in Michigan, and Dad lived in Minnesota. One night, my dad got a call at work from my mom: "Come get her before I put her in a foster home!" So Dad came and picked me up at 3 in the morning. We lived in my dad's hometown in Minnesota for a while, but Dad didn't want me to go to school where we lived, so we moved to Missouri. That's where I am now.
My mother moved back to Minnesota, got married and now has two babies. My problem is she wants me to move back in with her, and so does my aunt, but I don't want to. I said I'd go to her house for the summer to take care of my little siblings. My question is, how am I supposed to say no to my mother without hurting her feelings and say no to my aunt, who I love so much? -- CONFUSED IN ST. CHARLES
DEAR CONFUSED: This is something you need to seriously discuss with your father, because I am not at all sure you should be responsible for your little half-siblings, even for the summer. I doubt that your mother has changed much, and I am concerned that you will be nothing more than a free baby sitter.
Please do not worry about hurting your former abuser's feelings. If you agree to this arrangement, the person more likely to be hurt will be you.
As for your aunt, if your love for her is reciprocated, she can visit you. Or you can visit her. But that visit should not include baby-sitting those children under the circumstances you have described to me.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have just learned that our 9-year-old nephew was molested by a teenage boy over the course of the last 18 months. My brother-in-law is requesting additional family contact, saying that the boy has lost friends and trust and needs us around more often. We live six hours away, and we certainly don't mind seeing him more often.
We have a family event coming up in a few weeks, and this will be the first time we'll see them in person since we found out. I am not quite sure how to treat the boy. Should I tell him I know about it? How do we offer comfort and support? -- CONCERNED AUNT IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR CONCERNED AUNT: There is no need to tell your nephew that you know what happened. The best way to offer comfort and support would be to treat him the way you always have -- be your normal, affectionate, good-humored selves. If the boy wants to confide in you, he will. But you should not bring the subject up or you could embarrass him.
DEAR ABBY: Is there a proper amount of time to wait to send a sympathy card when someone you know suffers a loss? Is it proper to send the card before the funeral, or is it better to wait a week or so? -- GEORGE IN SEATTLE
DEAR GEORGE: Customs vary among different cultures. Generally, sympathy cards are sent at the time one hears about the death. However, in some cultures sympathy cards with money enclosed are given to the grieving family at the funeral.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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