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by Abigail Van Buren

Volatile Sister Has to Be Stopped Before She Hurts Son

DEAR ABBY: I have a sister I love dearly. "Thea" is married to a wonderful man, and they have a 3-year-old son I love as if he were my own. My problem is Thea has a nasty, violent temper, and she doesn't hesitate to use it toward the boy.

Recently when he was overtired and needed to go to bed, Thea said he "knows better than to push me by throwing a tantrum." She then threatened to "beat him bloody" if he didn't "shut up" and go to sleep. Abby, she had already swatted his behind to the point that he could no longer stand up.

This feels like abuse to me. When I suggested that perhaps Thea should try to calm down before she hits him (more than she already had), she threw me out of her house! I am terrified that this may be happening more often than I realize. But what if what I witnessed was just an isolated incident? If I act on it, I may never have a relationship with my sister again.

What (if anything) can I do? I'm worried for the safety of my nephew, but I don't want to cause a rift I can't mend. -- MIDWEST AUNTIE

DEAR AUNTIE: It appears your sister has serious anger issues and lacks parenting skills. A mother who "swats" her child to the point that he can no longer stand is an abuser, and she needs an intervention before her child is seriously hurt. Because Thea's reaction when you tried to intervene and calm her down was to throw you out of the house, the next step is to call Childhelp USA. The toll-free number is 800-422-4453. Your call will be kept confidential and a counselor can guide you further. Please don't procrastinate.

DEAR ABBY: My fiance, "Roger," died recently. I am working through the devastating grief of his passing, but the core of my pain was listening to the eulogies at his funeral.

I expected Roger's friends and family to share happy memories and celebrate the best of his life. However, many of those who spoke -- including his granddaughter -- chose to remember him as a notorious womanizer both while his wife was alive and after her death. Stories were shared about how he constantly hit on much younger women, including his daughter's childhood friends. One "gentleman" even shared an "amusing" anecdote about how he and Roger found out they were sleeping with the same woman.

I knew about Roger's past before he met me and I managed to come to terms with it, but I did not expect it to be brought up as entertainment at his memorial. I also thought it to be inappropriate with his late wife's family in attendance.

Now my memories are tainted, and I feel dirty and used. I live 500 miles from Roger's home and will probably never see those people again. What can I do to get over this anger that continues to haunt me? -- STILL IN MOURNING

DEAR STILL MOURNING: A eulogy is usually a respectful recapitulation of the deceased's life story, which includes loving memories, lessons taught, examples set by the person. What happened at the funeral was an indication that Roger left behind bitter memories that were voiced by those who spoke. How sad for all concerned.

However, this has nothing to do with you and your relationship with Roger. And the quickest way to work through your feelings would be to practice forgiveness and go on with your life -- in which Roger was just a chapter.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)