DEAR ABBY: I am deeply disturbed by the situation my sister has gotten herself into. She calls me often to ventilate and seek my advice. I care a great deal about her, but the telephone time and expense are beginning to affect my marriage, and she never takes my advice anyway.
"Nancy" and her husband have been married 23 years. They are both well-educated. He is a professional and Nancy has worked off and on to supplement their income. They have three children, one in college and two in high school.
Abby, their main problem is that they are heavily in debt due to his excessive use of credit cards. Nancy has allowed the situation to continue for many years, claiming she has no control over him. He manages their money and feels that as the primary wage earner, he has the right to control their finances. They have gone to credit counselors, but have never gained control of their debt situation.
Now they are having trouble qualifying for a mortgage, and their son who is in college is being held liable for $3,900 in telephone charges his roommate incurred.
I have urged my sister to take control of the money in their family, but apparently she hasn't. Every time a new crisis arises, she seems surprised and angry.
Abby, what advice can I give her? -- J.A. IN EL PASO, TEXAS
DEAR J.A.: Since your sister has never taken advantage of your wise counsel, stop giving it. Listen to her other problems if you wish, but when she starts to replay this broken record, end the conversation. If she asks you why, tell her that you love her, but that her refusal to handle financial problems is beginning to affect YOUR marriage.
DEAR ABBY: After reading the letters in your column about forgiveness, I remembered something that I read in "Reader's Digest" the morning I had my first real argument with my husband. We had been married only a month. It read:
"To forgive is holy.
"To forget takes restraint.
"To forget what you forgave is the mark of a saint."
Abby, it was true then and it's true today. -- K.C. IN PUNTA GORDA, FLA.
DEAR K.C.: Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom. Readers, I urge each of you to adopt this sage philosophy, for who among us does not need to be forgiven more than once in a lifetime?
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Created by the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, "Spirited Minds: African American Books for Our Sons and Our Brothers" (W.W. Norton, N.Y. & London), sells for $11 in softcover.
Adults can create a lifelong love for reading in children by reading to them and with them -- and the most powerful way to teach is by engaging the imagination.
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