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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Our daughter is in her late 30s. She's been married and divorced and has two sons. She is now living with a leech, a man who does not contribute to the household rent or food, and treats the boys like dirt. She provides for all his needs from her spousal support, while her kids walk around with holes in their shoes and unkempt clothing.

When I was a child, my mother abandoned me. She gave me away to my aunt to raise. My aunt worked at menial jobs to keep me clothed and fed. My mother did not contribute to my upkeep. She left the town where we lived. My aunt saw to it that I graduated from high school. She could not send me to college, but she planted the education seed, and when I became self-sufficient, I went to college, worked and graduated. My aunt, God bless her soul, was the best mother until her death a few years ago.

Now I have been abandoned a second time, this time by my daughter. My wife and I discussed with her the living arrangment she now has, told her she should get rid of this leech and provide a more stable home for her boys. We're not telling her not to have any friends or lovers, only not to let them live off her and mistreat her sons.

Based on your advice to others, as I recall, if I ask you what to do, you will tell me to leave her alone and let her live her own life. However, she is not alone. Her boys need more guidance than to have a leech misguide them through life. What's your advice? -- TWICE ABANDONED

DEAR TWICE ABANDONED: What you are reacting to so strongly isn't "abandonment" by your daughter. It's what you perceive to be neglect on her part to properly nurture her children. And you are not wrong if the picture you have painted is accurate.

I advise you to call your daughter and begin mending fences for the sake of the boys. Take them into your home as often as you can -- after school, weekends, etc. -- and since you have attained financial stability, give your grandsons the items you see they need. It is within your power to remedy the neglect if you wish to do so.

DEAR ABBY: This concerns "Hurt Brother in Ohio," who has been given power of attorney by his mother.

I would ask the brother who has the power of attorney to be broadminded in regard to his older, smarter (his words) and angry brother. I suspect a long-standing anger has affected the mother herself, and perhaps all her children. The angry brother may be silent, but I'll bet he has a story to tell.

If the mother is 90, these brothers are not kids. Both of these men have possibly spent years being compared to each other, and it has served neither of them well. It's way too late for the mother to sort it out, if what I surmise contains a seed of truth.

Dutiful brother asked for a suggestion. I have one: Would it be possible for the dutiful brother to force objectivity on the situation by hiring a service to handle the bill-paying and accounting? The service can send statement copies to any and all parties. The dutiful brother could then avoid further hostility by sincere refusal to regard the power of attorney as other than a formality that he need not act upon. -- A READER WHO HAS BEEN THERE IN DENVER

DEAR READER: I'm printing your suggestion with the hope that "Hurt Brother" sees it. It could be comforting.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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