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by Abigail Van Buren

Teen in Foster Home Sees World Through New Eyes

DEAR ABBY: I am almost 14 and live in a foster home. Before I entered foster care, I didn't think much about other kids and teens in foster homes. Now that I'm the one with the title "foster kid," I see everything in a new light. Although foster homes are a blessing to most kids who live troubled lives, it's still very hard to endure. If there is one thing I hate about being a foster child, it is feeling different from others in my new neighborhood and school.

My message to your readers is: If there's a foster child you know, please reach out to him or her. We're not different from the rest of you.

Thank you for your time, Abby. Please share this with your readers. -- NAMELESS IN OREGON

DEAR NAMELESS: I'm pleased to spread your message. If people are hesitant to reach out to foster children, it may be because they are confused about why the children are in foster care.

Children are placed in foster care not because they have done anything wrong, but because, for whatever reason, their parents have neglected them or cannot provide a safe, nurturing environment for them. It is not the fault of the children. Foster children deserve all the attention, affection and encouragement you can give them. It will be returned a thousandfold.

DEAR ABBY: In response to your recent column about women involved with men who have narcissistic personalities, I thought it might be helpful if your readers could read a description of those personality characteristics. They are listed in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" published by the American Psychiatric Association. -- BARBARA NESTINGEN, M.S., M.S.W., MILWAUKEE

DEAR BARBARA: I agree that a description of those traits might be helpful. I found them interesting. Read on:


A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1) A grandiose sense of self-importance -- exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.

2) Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.

3) Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions.

4) Requires excessive admiration.

5) A sense of entitlement -- unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.

6) Interpersonally exploitative -- takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

7) Lacks empathy -- is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

8) Often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

9) Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

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