Dear Ann:

My mother left us when I was 6 and my brother was 10. That was 25 years ago. Even though Mom showed up for holidays and birthdays, we were raised solely by my father.

When Dad passed away three years ago, Mom had a nervous breakdown, and started to drink excessively. We know she is manic-depressive, and now, we believe she is also an alcoholic. She has battled depression her entire life. The problem is that Mom lives alone, but quit her job six months ago, and we have no idea how she is supporting herself. When we ask about her financial situation, she refuses to talk about it. If we offer money, she won't take it.

My brother and I suspect there isn't much money left from Mom's savings, and we worry what will happen once that money is gone. My husband and I invited Mom to live with us, but we told her she would have to stop smoking and drinking, and take her medication regularly. She refused.

I do not have a close, loving relationship with my mother, but I still feel responsible for her and want to help.

She started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings again, and we are hopeful this will work, but it's hard to trust her. She has tried AA before and could never stick with the program. Should I allow her to move into my home, even though she still smokes and may not be able to stay off the booze?

I am confused and lost. Please tell me what to do.

Bowie

If you allow your mother to move into your home, the results could be disastrous, but please give her one last chance. I strongly recommend that you check out Al-Anon (it's in your phone book), a group for families and friends of alcoholics, and learn how others with similar problems deal with them. The fact that your mother is seeking help bodes well for her recovery. I wish her luck, and you, too, dear.

Dear Ann:

I am 19 and a single mother of a 1-year-old girl, "Amanda." I attend college part-time, and am working to provide my daughter with the best life possible.

Amanda's father is the problem. He does not pay child support, and rarely sees his daughter, although I have bent over backward to arrange times that are convenient for him. He never bothers to call and let me know when he is not able to make it. He simply doesn't show up. When he does keep an appointment, he is always late, which causes me a great deal of stress, and I resent it.

Tell me, Ann, how important is Amanda's father going to be in her future? Frankly, I don't think he deserves to be part of her life. I am troubled by the thought that Amanda may grow up to be a "Daddy's girl," and will want him to walk her down the aisle when she gets married. He has done nothing to merit such a place of honor, and it eats at me that he might get the privilege, anyway.

On the other hand, I don't want to see her on talk shows when she is 18, looking for her long-lost father. Any advice for me?

Emotional Mom in Oklahoma

Let me get this straight. Amanda is a year old, and you are worried that her father (who rarely shows up) might want to walk her down the aisle when she marries. At the earliest, this will be approximately 17 years down the road.

It is important for your daughter to have her father in her life, but as of now, it appears he has little interest, so don't push it. He should be paying support, however, so push that. Please put the wedding scene on hold for a while, dear. The way things are going in our society, Amanda may never get married. She could wind up CEO of General Motors. Or she may do both.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.