DEAR ABBY: I am 19 years old and have known a girl I'll call Emma for a couple of years. She's 14 and like a member of my family -- a little sister. My parents joke that Emma is their second daughter.
Emma is an only child and lives with her mother. Her dad is an alcoholic who is currently serving time in prison. Lately Emma has been hanging out with a group of 18- and 19-year-old boys who let her drink and smoke pot with them. People say she's just "doing what all teens do," but I have never smoked or had a drink in my life.
Should I tell Emma's mother what's going on and risk losing our relationship, or should I wait to see if it's just a phase? I feel responsible, but don't know what to do. -- BIG SISTER IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR BIG SISTER: Tell Emma's mother NOW. Because Emma's father is an alcoholic, she already has the predisposition to become one. The longer you procrastinate, the greater her chances of getting into serious trouble --and face it, she's already well on her way. The "boys" Emma is hanging out with are too old for her, and girls under the influence of alcohol and marijuana make mistakes that can affect the rest of their lives.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 26, and "Henry," my boyfriend of five years, and I are expecting our first child. We're not married, but plan to be sometime after the baby arrives.
My problem is my mother. She keeps telling me that because Henry and I aren't married, the baby's last name should be my maiden name. She says it's the law. I always believed that a child's last name should be the father's last name, married or not.
Is my mother right, or is our baby entitled to have his father's last name? -- SECOND THOUGHTS IN SANTA ROSA, CALIF.
DEAR SECOND THOUGHTS: According to the Los Angeles County Hall of Records, because you and Henry are not married, in order for his name to appear on the baby's birth certificate, he will have to sign a Declaration of Paternity. This can be done in the hospital at the time of the child's birth. However, because you don't live in L.A. County, and laws can vary in different places, check with the birth clerk at the hospital where the baby will be delivered.
DEAR ABBY: I recently celebrated a birthday and was taken to lunch by a couple who are like a second set of parents to me. As they always do, they presented me with a card filled with cash. The cash was a combination of $10s and $20s.
I opened the card in front of them, read the sentiment inside and thanked them from the bottom of my heart. However, it is always awkward because I never know what to do with the money. Is it proper to count it in front of them, or acknowledge the cash, close the card and count it later in private? -- GRATEFUL IN ORLANDO
DEAR GRATEFUL: You should thank your benefactors warmly for their generosity, close the card and count the money privately. Then write them a sweet note in which you thank them again for the amount they gave you. To count the money in their presence would make it appear you are fixated on the amount.
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