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DEAR ABBY: Our family owns a bar in a resort community. I run it, along with my mom and two of my sisters. Added to that mix is one of my brothers-in-law, "Jeff." Jeff is the problem.

Jeff manages the bar some nights, and he is becoming increasingly difficult to work with. He does a good job of managing in most areas. However, he is impossible to talk to. At the ripe old age of 26, he has become a know-it-all. If he thinks he's being criticized, he becomes combative, bossy or defensive. He is also very sensitive, and frankly, very immature.

I understand that Jeff loves our business and is dedicated to his job, but the problem is the way he talks over everyone. He also likes to hold his position over employees, and his refusal to listen to what others have to say is making an impossible situation. If he wasn't a part of the family, he would not be working here in his current capacity.

I have tried explaining that he must choose his words more carefully, and that he needs to listen and be a part of the team rather than always "the boss," but nothing gets through. I'm reluctant to upset the natural balance of our family or hurt Jeff or my sister, but something must be done. We're losing good employees and customers because of his attitude. What can I do? -- TRYING TO SAVE THE BUSINESS

DEAR TRYING: You have failed to recognize that "the business" is an entirely separate entity from "the family," and must be treated as such. What you might tolerate from a family member is not always acceptable in business. Because, I assume, your family's livelihood depends upon the business, you have a duty to nurture it and, if necessary, prune away anything that might threaten it.

My advice is to call a meeting of your "shareholders" and stage an intervention with your brother-in-law. Make it plain that there must be an attitude adjustment effective immediately, or, much as you care about him, he will have to find other employment. Then act accordingly. Business is business.

DEAR ABBY: What do you do when your partner is verbally abusive? When he gets mad at me, he calls me a racially insulting name, and I'm not even black. I'm Hispanic.

I wasn't raised to talk to anyone like that, and it really bothers me that my partner feels that way about them and me. What am I supposed to do? -- LISA IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR LISA: Your partner is not only a verbal abuser, it appears he is also a bigot. What you are "supposed to do" is dump him, because the person you have described cannot control his mouth and never learned how to express his emotions on an adult level. He will make your life miserable if you continue to allow it.

DEAR ABBY: I am a cleaning lady. My customers are like family to me. If I ever found drugs, cigarettes or alcohol in a minor's bedroom, I would inform the parents. Recently, however, I found used condoms and a homemade "used" sex toy.

I do not know what to do. The boys are approximately 8 and 12. The older one was involved with pornography both on the cable TV and on the Internet. His parents handled it with therapy and locks on the TV and computer. Do I turn a blind eye and mind my own business? Even with drugs and alcohol, should I look the other way? Any advice would be helpful. -- CLEANING LADY IN N.Y.

DEAR CLEANING LADY: For a 12-year-old boy to have sexual urges is not unusual. However, because this one was sexualized early and has a younger brother, it would be a good idea to mention what you found to their father and let him handle it from there.

As to drugs and alcohol, possession of both by a minor is illegal and the parents should definitely be informed if the child is abusing either.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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