DEAR ABBY: I have just found out that my younger brother has been placed in foster care because he was abused in my mother's home. My family and I have been discussing who will take care of him, and everyone is saying it should be me because I am the only one of my siblings who has a job and my own apartment. I love my little brother with all my heart, but I don't feel all the responsibility should be placed on my shoulders.
I live in a two-bedroom apartment with my two children. My son is disabled. Yes, I do have a job, but I earn a low hourly wage and I'm on a tight budget. I am also concerned that my brother will need counseling to help him get over what he has been through.
When I explain my concerns to my family, they get angry and say I'm being selfish, and to be honest, I am feeling very guilty. Please help me because I have no idea what to do.
— CRYING AT NIGHT IN MILWAUKEE
DEAR CRYING: Dry those tears and do not allow yourself to be manipulated into something you can't handle. As a single mother, you already have your hands full caring for two children — one of whom has special needs.
Your family is wrong to expect you to shoulder this additional challenge alone. Because none of them is offering to help you, and your brother was abused in the care of the family, accept that he may be better off in a supportive foster-care environment.
DEAR ABBY: When my husband and I moved into our new home, one of the neighbor kids, "Rachael" (age 9), took a liking to me. She came over with her mom, introduced herself and asked for my phone number. I thought nothing of it. But as time has passed, she has been calling more and more to invite me over. Abby, I'm almost 30!
It has reached the point where we no longer answer our phone. Rachael also shows up at our door with her friends and wants to "hang out." Sometimes she just stands there and doesn't say anything. It's awkward because I have never been wild about kids.
The girl is also constantly in our yard, playing with our dog (even though she has pets of her own), using our outdoor furniture, etc. I thought her mom would discourage it — but one day she actually left Rachael with me when she went out on a Saturday night.
Rachael has a response to all my excuses about why I can't see her. When I get home from work, she and several other young kids are playing in my driveway as I pull in. I have told her no one is allowed in our yard without our permission.
We are a young, happy couple with a lot of work to do on our house. We have a large yard to maintain and, frankly, I don't want to be the neighborhood baby sitter. How can I get this point across?
— STUCK IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR STUCK: You are addressing your comments to the wrong person. You should take this up with Rachael's mother. You do not have to make "excuses." There are valid reasons Rachael and her friends should not be on your property unless they are supervised. If she or one of the others should somehow injure themselves, you could be held legally responsible. If there are no restrictions on fences in your neighborhood, consider fencing your yard.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.