DEAR ABBY: I am a single parent, although I never intended to be. Last fall, I was asked to baby-sit a 14-year-old boy. He has been in my custody ever since. His mother abandoned him. Only in the last month have I actually gotten legal custody of him from Social Services. The problems he had prior to being with me have caused me legal expenses I never could have imagined. (They are all paid now.)
I sold my truck and moved out of my original apartment, so I don't have much. We have no furniture other than the beds we sleep on and a dining room table we received as a gift. I have no idea where to go for help. I have no idea what I am doing as a parent. But I made a promise to that boy, and I fully intend to make sure that I carry it through. What do I need to know? -- NEW FATHER IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR NEW FATHER: Congratulations on becoming a father. You have already mastered the most important lesson on becoming a parent -- and that's being there for your child. The library is filled with books on parenting, and I'm sure you will find some answers there. But you are already a stable influence, and that's what the boy needs. You should also know that there is money available to take care of your boy, and the Department of Social Services should be able to help you get it.