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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Wary of Entertaining Friend's Obnoxious Husband

DEAR ABBY: I have recently filed for custody of my 6-year-old niece, "Ella." My mother has had custody for the last few years, but Mother is an alcoholic. I have tried to control various situations that arise, but I cannot let my niece be in my mother's care. I know what it was like for me growing up in that environment, and I want better opportunities for Ella.

My mother will be heartbroken, but I see no alternative. How can I explain this to my mother? I want her to get help, but she still doesn't admit that she has a problem. -- CONFUSED IN ARKANSAS

DEAR CONFUSED: If you have custody of Ella, it doesn't mean that your mother can't see or spend time with her -- when she's sober. But right now, your niece's welfare is more important than your mother's feelings.

Surely you are not the only person who realizes your mother has a problem with alcohol. Gather some allies and stage an intervention. All of you should tell her the effect that her drinking has had on those around her. That may be her "wake-up call," and may cause her to seek help.