DEAR ABBY: I am a single father raising my 6-year-old son, Jimmy. He's the light of my life.
As a result of my messy divorce, Jimmy is having a lot of problems dealing with his mother. (I'll call her Elaine.) Elaine calls only when it's convenient for her and refuses to give me her address or phone number, making it impossible for Jimmy to contact her. The judge ordered her to take parenting classes and suspended her visitation until she complies.
My stepdaughter has been in touch with Elaine, and I have allowed her to pick up Jimmy and take him to visit his mother, because I want him to know her. Until last year Elaine was addicted to drugs, but claims she's clean now due to her probation.
My dilemma: Elaine owes me $5,000 in child support. I've been paid a total of $214.15. Now the judge has ordered her to pay me a certain amount or she will be sent to jail for six months. Elaine has blamed me in front of Jimmy for her situation. He is hurt by this and blames me for the possibility of "putting Mommy in jail," even though she's the one responsible for her own actions. Jimmy has been in counseling, but it's not helping. I need your advice, Abby. Please help me. -- SINGLE DAD IN ILLINOIS
DEAR SINGLE DAD: Your mistake was allowing your stepdaughter to take Jimmy to see his mother against the judge's orders. In a sense, it has allowed your little boy to be victimized again because of Elaine's brainwashing.
My advice is to keep your son in counseling -- and follow the judge's rules from now on. Be sure the counselor is aware of everything that's happening, as well as your son's teachers. Spend as much time with your son as you can. He needs you now more than ever.
DEAR ABBY: My mother was married once before she married my dad. She has a son, "Morris," from that first marriage.
When Dad and Mom were married, my dad adopted Morris. My parents have been divorced almost 20 years now, and Dad's mother ("Granny O'Hara") does not acknowledge my half-brother as her grandchild, nor his wife or their lovely children.
I will receive a large inheritance from Granny O'Hara, and I feel that Morris should be included in this bequest. Please let me know if you agree, and what you think would be the best way to approach Granny about this. She knows I am close with my half-brother and is kind about asking about him, but I feel he deserves more. This is a touchy subject. -- WANTS TO BE FAIR IN OHIO
DEAR WANTS TO BE FAIR: It appears that your grandmother intends to keep her estate in her biological family -- to be passed on to blood relatives only. If that's the case, I doubt anything you say will sway her.
Since you wish to share your inheritance with your half-brother, I urge you to discuss the matter with an attorney who can explain what the tax liabilities might be if you do so after Granny's death. You may have to spread the payments out over a number of years in order to avoid gift taxes.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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