DEAR ABBY: My husband of two years and I are having a tough time raising my 12-year-old brother. My mother passed away two years ago, and he agreed to help me raise him until he's 18. Since my brother moved in with us, we've all had a hard time adjusting. I constantly feel I have to choose between them. My husband is tough with my brother because he says he has to become a man. I try to protect my brother, because the male influence in his life hasn't been the best.
What should I do? Should I let my husband discipline him as he wishes, or should I intervene? -- FRUSTRATED IN CASTLE ROCK, COLO.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: I agree your brother will have to learn to become a man, but right now he is only a 12-year-old child who has lost his mother -– and whose father is apparently nowhere in sight. That you have taken him in is wonderful, but you and your husband need to come to an understanding and an agreement about what "discipline" means. In order for discipline to work, it must also be fair, nonviolent and consistent. Assuredly, you will have to set rules and boundaries for the boy. But you and your husband should seek family counseling to help you during this learning process of raising your brother.
DEAR ABBY: Four years ago, during my freshman year in college, I gave birth to a beautiful little boy. His father and I made the joint decision to place him for adoption. Thankfully, his adopted family keeps me involved with his life by sending me pictures and frequent updates. I have no regrets about my decision.
I am soon to be married to the most wonderful man on Earth. Recently, during our premarital counseling, the question came up concerning how we would tell our children about the son I had. After discussing this issue further, my fiance and I agreed that we would like our children to know about their half-brother from their earliest memory. Our problem is, we don't know how to tell them in a way that will not upset them, confuse them or scare them. Any suggestions? -- JESSICA IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR JESSICA: I do not agree that your children should be told "from their earliest memory" that they have a half-brother who was adopted by another family. It will be easier for them to understand when they are older, and you are talking with them about the facts of life and the consequences of unprotected sex. They need to be able to engage in a dialogue with you about it at a time when they can fully comprehend your honest answers. Please consider what I have said.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 36-year-old man who has been dating a 39-year-old widow for two years. Lately, I thought things were going well between us, but two nights ago she called me to say she is going out with another man.
I have invested my whole self into this relationship and have developed an emotional attachment to my girlfriend's children. I am crushed, despondent and beside myself with sadness. What can I do to feel happy again? -- GRIEVING IN MONTEBELLO, CALIF.
DEAR GRIEVING: I am sorry things didn't work out as you wished. However, not every dating relationship ends up at the altar –- and that is just the way life is.
The surest way I know to get over a broken romance is to distract yourself. Keep busy. Channel the time and energy you devoted to the relationship into activities that will help your church, your community, your career and/or sports so you don't have the time to brood about what "might have been." This works for both sexes.
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