Dear Annie: My husband and I have been working with a 16-year-old boy for two months. "Justin" has a bad home life, and we try and provide him with a safe, structured environment. He comes to our home after school and stays until his curfew at 6 p.m. He hates to go home, but he does what is asked.
Justin and his mother fight a lot. "Fran" is always telling him that he is worthless and will never amount to anything. She says she'd like someone to take custody of him so she doesn't have to deal with him anymore. Fran doesn't drink or do drugs, so I find it hard to understand why she has such a mood swing with her son.
Justin is a great kid. He is wonderful with our 3-year-old daughter and is trying to be a better student at school. My husband and I have talked about becoming his foster parents. We would hate to see him get lost in the juvenile system.
Are there any classes we can take to help him through this time? Is it a wise thing to open our home to him when we have such a young child? We really love Justin like our own son, but I guess we are a little nervous about having another child. Please help us. — Lost in My Own Heart
Dear Lost: By opening your home and your hearts to this young man, you are making the world a better place. It can be a challenge to raise any child, and perhaps more so when it's a "sudden teenager," but you obviously have a knack for it. You can get information on foster parenting through the National Foster Parent Association (nfpainc.org) at 1-800-557-5238. Bless you.
Dear Annie: My youngest son, "Matt," is getting married. His future bride is a young woman from his church, and both of them have very conservative, old-fashioned beliefs. They are only inviting family and a few close friends.
A few years after my wife died, I fell in love with a widow. "Sally" and I live together, but we are not married. Matt has never approved of this arrangement, but it's never been a problem until now.
Matt does not consider Sally to be a family member, so he is not inviting her to the wedding. Naturally, Sally is hurt. My other kids have said they won't come to the wedding if Sally isn't invited. Should she stay home? Should I? Should we both just show up and make Matt throw her out? I really don't know what to do. — Dad R.
Dear R.: It is wrong of Matt to exclude Sally. However, you cannot force him to be more considerate or open-minded. We hope Sally will be gracious enough to stay home without complaint, so you can attend your son's wedding ceremony. You do not have to stay for the reception.
Dear Annie: My heart went out to "Devastated," who found hurtful words in her mother-in-law's journal. I experienced the same type of thing.
When my mother-in-law moved to an assisted living home, my mother and I were the ones who packed her entire house and put her belongings in storage. While going through her things, I ran into hundreds of nasty notes about everyone in the family, especially me and my parents.
I will never forget what my mother said. She told me, "Honey, we're going to pack these things up nicely, and we are not going to read anything else. You never know what makes people do what they do."
That was 10 years ago, and I've managed to put it behind me. I want to tell "Devastated" to keep being a loving daughter-in-law, because that is who she is. She is not the person her mother-in-law wrote about in her journal. In the long run, she'll be glad she rose above it. — Been There, Done That
Dear Been There: You have a wise mother, and both of you are forgiving souls. Thank you for writing.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2005. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.