Dear Annie: Since childhood, my mother has told me she never wanted me. I now have two children of my own. At one point, I became homeless, and my parents took me in. But I became ill and needed major surgery. While recovering, my brother's son came over often and would constantly pick on my sons. My parents did nothing.
One day, I heard my youngest son screaming, and when I checked, I saw my 10-year-old nephew hurting him and trying to molest him. I confronted my parents and my brother about allowing this behavior to go on, and Mom said to forget about it. Dad said nothing. Now my mother has disowned me and will have nothing to do with my children.
I have no other family, and this hurts. How can I get my parents to admit that my bully of a nephew has a serious problem? — On the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown
Dear Edge: Your nephew does indeed have a problem, but you cannot force your parents to address it. Your job is to protect your children. If that means keeping them away from your brother, your parents, your nephew or anyone else, then that is what you do. If the nephew molested your son, you could report the situation to the authorities.
Please look for "family" in your community and church. There are plenty of older adults who would love to be surrogate grandparents for your sons and would treat them with the care and consideration they deserve.
Dear Annie: I taught in the Maryland public school system for many years before retiring 10 years ago. Every year at Christmastime, the students gave me Christmas ornaments. Some were homemade from individual students, and others were large and from the whole class. Of course, I thanked each of them. But as the years went on, my appreciation grew as I took them out each season to decorate my tree. I wrote their names on the ornaments, so each year, I am able to think lovingly of those children. They continue to make my Christmas special.
To their parents, I thank you for allowing me to teach your children. Hopefully, those children will have fond memories about some way in which I made them feel special. They were certainly special to me. They were one of the reasons I loved to teach. I still think of them and wonder what kind of young adults they've become. It was a privilege to help shape their young minds and whet their appetites for learning. I wish them all well and hope they enjoy much success in life. Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah! With much love from their fifth-grade teacher — Mrs. Helen Gromadzki, The Villages, Florida
Dear Helen: Your letter was so sweet that we had to print it. We hope all of your former students have a chance to see it and possibly reconnect to let you know how their lives have turned out.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Hurting in Miami," who said her friend of 20 years married some wealthy young man and then cut off contact.
You mentioned in your response that her new husband may be controlling and trying to isolate his new bride. I want to emphasize this point, especially because the woman is young and may have no experience with this type of controlling person. Please tell "Miami" to try to keep in touch with her friend by email or phone and let her know she is there for her.
This same thing happened to a dear friend of mine. Her new husband was wonderful to her before marriage, but afterward turned into a control freak who isolated her from her family and friends. We were trying to get her out of this toxic situation, but before we could do anything, he threatened her with a gun, and it accidentally went off and she died. — Cautious in Michigan
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2013. 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.