DEAR ABBY: I have a sister-in-law who I believe is abusing her children -- but not in the way most people think of child abuse. Not a week goes by that her kids are not in a doctor's office or an emergency room. She seems to be happy or feel "important" when in an E.R. or talking to someone with a medical degree.
Other relatives think she's an exceptionally caring mother. I think she's sick, but I'm not sure whom to contact. She does not think she has a problem. Meanwhile, my brother sits idly by -- or accompanies her on these outings.
Am I wrong, or should some type of authority or social service be notified? I know for a fact that she has used her insurance every week except two this year. -- WORRIED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR WORRIED: Child protective services in your community should be told what you have told me. You may be describing a condition called Munchausen by proxy -- a mental illness in which parents sometimes present their children as sick in order to get attention for themselves. For the children's welfare, this should be investigated.