DEAR ABBY: Twelve years ago, I taught a boy I'll call Brandon in my first-grade class. I was very fond of him, and we had a strong connection. I knew Brandon had a tough home life and did my best to provide him a safe place in my classroom. I stayed in contact with his aunt over the years on social media because she had been a co-worker of my mother's, and we would occasionally discuss how Brandon was doing.
As he grew older, he began to associate with a bad crowd. He got in more and more trouble at school and eventually dropped out. A few months later, he was sent to prison for a violent crime.
His aunt has asked me to send Brandon a letter because he had always thought so much of me as his teacher. Without giving it much thought, I agreed.
Well, my husband is very opposed to the idea of me contacting Brandon. We have two young children with special needs, and I'm now a stay-at-home mom so I can help my children. My husband thinks I'm already dealing with too much stress, and he doesn't like the idea of a man who has been convicted of violence being in contact with me.
I am torn about what's the right thing to do. I feel like I am abandoning Brandon like so many others in his life, but I also see my husband's point. Abby, please help me to decide what to do. -- CONFLICTED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR CONFLICTED: I think you should write Brandon one letter of encouragement. In it, tell him how highly you thought of him when he was in your class because he probably hasn't received many compliments for a long time.
Point out that although he is physically incarcerated, his mind doesn't have to be, and suggest he direct his efforts toward improving his life once he is released. Furthering his education now would be a way to accomplish it, and if there's an opportunity for him to earn a degree while he's inside, he should take it. Also, if there are any books you or his aunt think he might find helpful or inspiring, recommend them.
Close your letter by explaining to Brandon that you have no time for correspondence now because you are caring for two special-needs children, but you did want to reach out this once and you will keep him in your prayers.