DEAR ABBY: A little over a year ago, my sons -- ages 10 and 11 -- met a 10-year-old boy named "Adam" and have played with him often since. During this time, Adam's mother and I have cultivated a warm friendship that I don't want to lose.
The problem? My sons don't like to play with Adam anymore. They say he cries and storms out when he doesn't get his way. I have observed this behavior myself. His mom has commented on it to me, but doesn't know what to do about it.
How can I tell my good friend that my kids don't want to play with her son anymore? CAN I tell her? My sons have "sucked it up" several times now so I could visit with her, but I don't think it's fair to keep asking them to do that. My boys get along nicely with their other friends and would rather play with them. Is there any way to solve this? -- BAFFLED IN CHARLOTTE
DEAR BAFFLED: It would be a kindness to tell Adam's mother that it's time to do something she should have done years ago -- better late than never: explain to her son the effect his behavior has on other kids, and that if it continues he will have no friends to play with.
The boy is old enough to understand plain English, and also cause and effect. If there is a father anywhere in the picture, he should also talk to his son.
Adam should also be warned by his mother that if he pulls that nonsense again with your boys, he won't be invited back. Then he should be given one more chance to participate at an appropriate age level and not a 2-year-old's.
DEAR ABBY: My older sister, "Iris," has suffered from depression for years, partly due to the success I have achieved in my life. I have traveled internationally, received scholarships, and now at 26, have a well-paying job and a loving husband.
Iris dropped out of college twice, works a minimum-wage job and has never had a boyfriend. I never brag about any of my achievements, but we talk on the phone often and she knows everything that's going on in my life.
My sister has never openly displayed any jealousy or resentment, but our mother has confided to me that Iris has been taking antidepressants for years and feels that she has never accomplished anything "great."
I have now learned that I'm expecting my first child. I'm afraid that when Iris finds out, she may be devastated. How can I tell her without sending her into a deeper depression, and how can I enjoy the good things that happen to me without feeling guilty about my sister? -- GUILTY ACHIEVER IN CANADA
DEAR GUILTY ACHIEVER: A step in the right direction would be for you to do some reading about chronic depression, so you can understand that your achievements did not cause your sister's problem. She is taking antidepressants to help her regulate a chemical imbalance in her brain that, apparently, she has been trying to cope with for many years -- which would explain why she had difficulty with personal relationships and her studies. If she's not already receiving it, psychotherapy -- in addition to her medications -- could help her.
The time has come to stop feeling guilty for your blessings. Tell your sister about the baby and let her share your happiness until she's well enough to find it on her own. It could help with her healing.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)