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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I read your column faithfully, and I respect and trust your advice. My concern is for a nephew living with my sister in another state. "Bret" is 19. He lives at home, rarely leaves the house, and spends his days in front of the television or at the computer. His weight currently tops 300 pounds. (He's about 5 foot 10.)

Bret dropped out of school at 16 and eventually earned his G.E.D. He cannot or will not get a job and refuses to go to classes or counseling. His mother, her boyfriend and two brothers are classic enablers. They provide him with everything he needs. They are literally killing him with kindness.

I am very worried about Bret and at a loss as to what I can do, if anything. Any suggestions would be appreciated. -- FRUSTRATED ON THE WEST COAST

DEAR FRUSTRATED: You're right; Bret's family is doing him no favor by enabling him.

Your nephew needs a friend. Make an effort to get closer to him, one-on-one. If it's difficult to visit him in person, start talking to him online and invite him to come to visit you. If he accepts, try, without being pushy, to show him some of the possibilities that are available to him outside his home environment and away from the computer. If you know people his age, introduce him. It's a start in the right direction.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old college student. I have been dating a wonderful man I'll call Cyrus for two years. He is sweet, good to me, and I am deeply in love with him. Cyrus has seizures that prevent him from driving a car or working full time. He lives with his mother and stepfather and receives a monthly disability check from the state.

When I tell people about my relationship with Cyrus, the first thing out of their mouths is, "What does he do for a living?" When I explain the situation, some of them turn up their noses and say, "Well, that doesn't sound like a very good excuse."

Abby, I want to marry Cyrus someday. However, these comments have made me wonder if he is the right person for me. I am not a spoiled or snobbish person who will marry only for money.

Should I ask Cyrus to consider finding a part-time job? Should I tell everyone to mind their own business? What should I do? -- WILLING IN WHEELING, W.VA.

DEAR WILLING: Make it your business to research all the information you can about your boyfriend's condition and how it may impact your future -- emotionally and financially. Love can conquer all; however, it's best to fully understand what to expect before making a lifetime commitment.

DEAR ABBY: I am 11 years old. Almost every time I go to the store to buy something, someone bugs me because I'm a kid. A couple of weeks ago I was in a store and a rude lady decided to get in front of me. She pushed me right out of line. After waiting 15 minutes, I left. I went home so mad I couldn't believe it. If it happens again, what should I do? -- A.J.M. IN AUBURN, N.Y.

DEAR A.J.M.: You have two choices. One, you can defer to the rude adult and chalk it up to the person's lack of manners, or two, speak up and in a loud voice proclaim, "Excuse me! I was here in line first." Sometimes asserting oneself can shame the offender into backing off.

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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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