DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I go away once a year and leave our two toddlers with family. This year, their aunt couldn't watch them, so we asked his cousin "Renee," who we have always liked, to watch them. She agreed, and we paid her $150 for the weekend. We also bought food she liked and stocked the cupboards with foods the kids eat. We knew Renee was having difficulty because her husband just lost his job, and they are about to be homeless (not because of his job loss). We explained the kids' routine and left.
When we got back, she yelled at us for taking longer than expected to get home (due to circumstances out of our control) and stormed out. We realized after she left that almost all the food we had bought for her and our kids was unopened. The packs of diapers were also unopened, and a lot of their clothes were stiff from urine. The next day, when his dad gave him his breakfast, our 2-year-old started wailing and ate twice as much as normal.
We are at a loss as to why Renee neglected our kids, since she always seemed like a great mom to her own. My boyfriend is extremely angry and struggling with guilt. I just want to tell his cousin off and never speak to her again. Your thoughts? -- FURIOUS OUT WEST
DEAR FURIOUS: I don't blame you and your boyfriend for feeling as you do. But I don't think telling his cousin off and never speaking to her again would get you the answers you deserve. There must be a reason why your children's needs were neglected.
You say her children seem to be fine. Before writing her off, take a closer look at her children, because this may be how they are being treated, too. And if that's the case, the family, and possibly child protective services, should be made aware of it.