DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl. My problem is my mother and the nonstop fights we’ve been having lately. I’m trying hard to do all the right things — keep my grades up, maintain my friendships — and maybe find a nice boyfriend. Through it all, I’ve tried to make Mom my No. 1 priority.

My father left us, and Mom has done everything for my brother, sister and me. Even when she had only 20 bucks in her pocket, she still kept us in our house with food on the table. What’s hardest for me right now is that I can’t do what other kids my age can — or go where they go — because of lack of money.

I have been reading my Bible every day and praying for my family — even for my dad. But I can’t seem to make Mom happy no matter how hard I try. She yells at me every time I turn around. I need some of your best advice, Abby. You can’t imagine how great it would be for me to hear something positive from Mom for a change. Thanks for listening. – TROUBLE WITH MOTHER

From your description, it appears your mother is stressed and not the mother she would wish to be. Her short fuse has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with her overwhelming responsibilities to you and your siblings. Please don’t take her outbursts personally.

Clip this column and show her this letter. Tell her that you wrote it, and that you love her, appreciate her and want to please her. Try to be understanding. She probably doesn’t realize how bad you have been feeling, and she needs all the support she can get right now.

If the yelling continues (too much yelling can be abusive), discuss it with your clergyperson or a counselor at school. They may be able to intervene on your behalf.

As for your money problems, start asking around and see if you can pick up some baby-sitting jobs for extra money in the short term. In another year or two you will be able to get a part-time job if you wish.

DEAR ABBY: My brother-in-law remarried a year ago. His new wife has a teenage son, “Josh,” from a previous relationship, and my brother-in-law is in the process of adopting him.

Recently my husband and I invited the three of them to our home. It was the first time we had met our sister- in-law and Josh. They both seemed nice, but my husband and I sensed that there was something about the boy we weren’t being told.

Last night, my husband’s mother confided in him that four years ago Josh was caught in the act of molesting and sodomizing his 9-year-old female cousin. He was convicted by juvenile court and sent away for three years.

The next time we saw Josh after learning this information, we were at the home of some other relatives. The family had gathered to celebrate an uncle’s birthday. During the course of the party, Josh spent time alone with several young cousins of both sexes in the basement playroom.

I told my husband that the other parents in our extended family should be told about Josh’s history, but he strongly disagrees. What do you think, Abby? Should I keep my mouth shut, or make sure that the next time Josh attends a family gathering, the parents are forewarned? I’m afraid to let this go, but I will abide by your answer. – WORRIED SICK ON THE EAST COAST

disagree with your husband. The parents should be told so that they can be sure their children are adequately supervised in their interactions with Josh. To pretend that the boy has no history of molestation would be both irresponsible and risky.

Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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