DEAR ABBY: Your answer to "Solo in Florida" (Dec. 26) saddened me. The writer, a confirmed bachelor, wrote about not wanting to be a role model for a 14-year-old boy, "Kyle," who became attached to him at church.
While I agree that the boy's parents have placed an unfair burden on this man, I'm sorry you didn't remind him how few people have the chance to positively impact the lives of others, particularly the lives of young children. Although "Solo" does not intend to have children of his own, he does have a chance to pass on something of equal value -- his wisdom and life experience.
Please remind "Solo" a bachelor is still a member of a community, and it takes a village to raise a child. -- HUMANIST IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
DEAR HUMANIST: Your point is well stated, and many readers agreed with you. However, "Solo in Florida" said he loves his freedom, has no desire to be a mentor, and may not possess the temperament to be one. While it is clear that "Kyle" is lacking something in his life, it is not Solo's responsibility to provide it. And Kyle's parents should not be pressing him into service. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My son fits "Kyle's" description. He is intelligent, articulate, has few friends and looks to adults in our community for conversation and friendship. I'm sure he has annoyed more than one person at church, school or in other activities.
My son has Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. As a rule, individuals with Asperger's are very literal and lack the ability to read vocal inflections, body language and gestures. They frequently misinterpret conversations and situations.
If a diagnosis proves my hunch, Kyle's family should look to someone who works with individuals with autism who can teach him the tools he needs to communicate with others -- including "Solo" -- without violating social boundaries. Everyone will be happier for the effort. -- MOM OF ASPIES IN MINNESOTA
DEAR ABBY: It is possible that Kyle may be dealing with gay issues. Quite often, and especially in families involved in church, there are few if any role models for a teen who thinks he (or she) is gay. It may be that this man's kindness and the fact that he is unattached would make him the closest candidate for a role model. -- CURTIS IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR ABBY: Because Kyle's mother is asking "Solo" to share meals with them in an effort to "control" the boy, she seems to feel that this approach has merit. Solo could tell her that while he is honored her son has chosen him as a mentor, he does not wish to take on that commitment, and suggest that she contact Big Brothers to find someone who does. -- JANE IN MESA, ARIZ.
DEAR ABBY: Perhaps "Solo in Florida" should become a little less "solo" at church a few times. If he arranged to arrive with and sit between or among some other adults there, he might be able to put a little distance between himself and the boy. -- GRAMMY IN HAWAII
DEAR ABBY: Male teens who behave like Kyle often suffer from depression, undiagnosed ADD/ADHD and may be at risk for drug abuse or suicide. Involving the spiritual adviser is a good first step in helping the boy. Kyle needs a psychiatric evaluation, the family needs counseling, and his parents could benefit from some parenting classes. -- ADVOCATE IN GARDEN GROVE, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: Just a few words and a friendly smile can often do far more than one can ever imagine for a person who seems starved for attention. Even if "Solo" doesn't do anything to help that boy, I hope he at least will NOT do anything to offend or hurt him. -- DELAWARE READER
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)