DEAR ABBY: I have worked as a nanny for many years for a divorced professional woman. She has a son and a daughter. The son, now 15, is smoking pot. I told his mom, but she's ignoring the problem. She said: "He's just experimenting. I want him to get it out of his system before he enters college."
I love this child, and I feel helpless. He knows better. The boy used to be very honest, but that's no longer the case. How can I help him when his mother isn't making an effort? -- NANNY WHO CARES IN TEXAS
DEAR NANNY: Your employer seems to be clueless. What makes her think her son will get into college if he's spending his high school years stoned on weed? And for that matter, when he grows bored with grass, what makes her think he won't go on to "experiment" with stronger illegal substances? Hiding her head in the sand is not the answer.
Where is the boy's father? If the mother isn't up to the task of keeping her son on the straight and narrow, the father should be informed about what's going on.
DEAR ABBY: My mother and "Simon," the man I consider my father, married when I was a toddler. Simon adopted me when I was in grade school. Most people believe he's my natural father, including my siblings. (I have no contact with or memory of my biological father.)
Last month at my brother's wedding, a guest commented to Dad about how much we look alike. Simon responded with, "Well, that would be tough." The guest replied, "Oh, she isn't yours?" and he said no. I was extremely hurt by his response. This has left me wondering if he feels differently about me than my sisters and brothers.
Nothing has been said since, and I feel I should let it go. Should I say something to my dad or just chalk it up to a stressful day for all of us? -- FEELING EXCLUDED IN OHIO
DEAR FEELING EXCLUDED: Chalk it up to thoughtlessness on Simon's part. You became "his" when he adopted you. What he was focused on at the wedding was the question of biological relatedness, and I'm sure he didn't mean to slight you. Because this has troubled you enough to write to me, discuss it with your father and tell him how it made you feel, and give him a chance to explain.
DEAR ABBY: We have two sons, both married with children. Unfortunately, their wives don't get along, which has resulted in strained family gatherings. There is now a tendency not to invite the "other" couple to family events. Our sons always got along with each other, but this has also strained their relationship.
Any suggestions? Should we, as parents, get involved and talk to both couples at the same time? It is heartbreaking to see our sons and our grandchildren miss out on together time. -- SAD IN SYRACUSE
DEAR SAD: Talk to your sons separately -- and then with their wives. Whatever has caused the tension between your daughters-in-law may take mediation to fix. You are right to be concerned, because if the cousins don't grow up knowing each other, the breach in the branches of your family will be permanent.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: Tonight at sundown, Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, begins. It's a day of fasting, reflection, prayer and repentance. To all of you, may your fast be an easy one.