DEAR ABBY: I have an 8-year-old stepson, "Kaden," whom I love dearly. Kaden spends the bulk of his time with his mother on the other side of the country. When he comes to visit us in the summer, his clothing and shoes are always ragged and a few sizes too small.
My husband pays child support and buys Kaden a new wardrobe every six months. Yet every time he comes to us, he's never wearing anything his dad and I bought him, but what appear to be hand-me-down rags. We have spoken to the mother many times about it, but nothing changes.
We feel if we stop buying clothes for Kaden it would punish him, when it is his mom who isn't spending the child support money on the boy. We have paid for extracurricular activities (sports) only for her to not take him there. She lies and says he doesn't want to go, but we get a different story from the boy. He says she says, "Judo isn't a real sport." He has gained weight and we don't want him to be picked on for it.
The state where the boy lives is not good about giving fathers custody of their kids, and the mom is not necessarily unfit. How can we make her see she's hurting her kid? -- MOTHER DOESN'T KNOW BEST
DEAR M.D.K.B.: You can't "make" another adult do something she isn't inclined to do. However, what you can do is enroll Kaden in sports programs when he visits you during the summer months.
You and your husband can also talk to a family law attorney and find out at what age Kaden will be able to legally request to be placed with you. While a young child may not be able to do this, I believe a teenager can make a compelling case for it. If Kaden's mother has been depriving him, it would make a persuasive argument for a change in custody.
DEAR ABBY: I really like this guy named "Gary." He's super sweet, funny, cute and just incredible. He's my brother's friend.
I'm in sixth grade and he's in fifth. I think he might like me back. He asked me to follow his new Instagram account, and when I told him to tell my brother hi, he stared at me for a few seconds longer (plus he was smiling the whole time). One of my girlfriends sort of likes him, too.
What do I do? How do I tell him I like him? Is it OK for me to ask him to go to the park? His brother and my brother could go, too. Please help me. What do I do? -- GIRL IN EL PASO, TEXAS
DEAR GIRL: If Gary wants you to follow his Instagram account, it's a pretty good sign that he has positive feelings for you. If you want to ask him to go to the park, and your parents don't mind, go ahead and do it. But let me offer a couple of suggestions:
If you ask him, DO include your brother and his brother because being with others will make it more fun. And, everybody loves a compliment. The compliment doesn't have to be as blatant as "I like you," which could embarrass some boys his age. A simple, "I think you're great because (you're really smart, you're good at sports, you're fun to be around, etc.)" should do the trick.
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