My brother-in-law, "Charles," lives in his mother's basement. He has not held a job for more than 15 years and never leaves the house except for the rare occasion when he goes out to buy pizza. He does not date and hasn't for as long as I have known him. He has heard voices and has told all of us that he runs an oil company from the basement. I have two children whom I do not want to be alone with Charles -- ever. I have expressed this to my husband, and it has gotten back to my sister-in-law, who insists Charles "wouldn't hurt a fly." Our children's pediatrician agrees with me. This has caused a rift in the family.
Should I hold my ground or give in to the majority?
Anxious Mother in Ohio
Charles appears to be mentally ill and delusional, and while he should be treated with kindness and respect, he does not appear to be responsible enough to baby-sit. Have any of you tried to get him professional help? Listen to the pediatrician and do not leave the children alone with this poor man. Better to be safe than sorry.
My husband, "Rick," and I have a 4-year-old daughter, "Carmelle." When I brought Carmelle home from the hospital, she slept in a crib in our bedroom and I'd bring her to bed with me for midnight breast feedings so I could sleep.
Since then, Carmelle has refused to sleep in her own bed. I placed a child bed next to ours in our bedroom, and each night I'd tuck her in. But she would cry, so Rick would let her climb into ours. For the past year, she has slept between us. The situation is now bordering on the ridiculous. I often wonder why I bothered to have my tubes tied.
Carmelle has a room of her own that I recently furnished, but she refuses to use it. I now sleep alone in our king-sized bed. That's because I told Rick I didn't want her wetting in my bed any longer. I thought a brand- new bedroom set with a twin-sized bed would encourage Carmelle to sleep in her room and Rick to sleep with me. Well, it backfired, and I continue to sleep alone, while my husband sleeps with our daughter in her bed. Have you any advice for me?
Abandoned in Palm Bay, Fla.
Take your daughter to her pediatrician for an examination to determine why she's still wetting the bed. There are medications and devices that can help her -- but first you must determine what's causing the problem.
Once that's done, it's time for you and your husband to have a heart-to-heart about why he's sleeping with his daughter instead of his wife. If necessary, have it in a marriage counselor's office. In some cultures, a "family bed" is a tradition (in our culture it is much less so), but even then, the husband and wife find time to be alone with each other. For the sake of your marriage, you must resolve this important issue, so don't put it off any longer.
P.S. Some sessions with a child psychologist might also be helpful. Your little girl isn't going to like it when her routine is disrupted, so be prepared.
There's a kid at school named Michael. I want to be friends with him, but I don't know what to do. Like me, he lost his dad. There is only one difference -- Michael can still see his dad. I have to wait until I'm dead to see mine. What should I do? I'd really like to be friends.
Friend-Seeker in Michigan
For starters, let him know he's welcome to eat lunch with you and your friends. If teams are chosen for sports, make it known you'd like him to be on yours. If you and your friends plan some activity after school, offer to include him. The surest way I know to make a friend is to be one.
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate