DEAR ABBY: My mother is in her early 40s. She has four children, including me. I am married and have two children of my own. Still living at home are my brother, 17, a sister, 14, and the 1-year-old baby, “Michelle.” Michelle is from another guy.

Mom purposely got pregnant, knowing that “Tom” didn’t want a child. Needless to say, they are no longer together, and Tom has nothing to do with Michelle. Mom is having problems with my brother and sister. They choose not to listen and have been in trouble with the law.

My mom is no longer working. She spends her days with the baby. She recently let slip that she wishes she could just die. She wants to commit suicide because she is just so depressed. No work, no child care, the kids don’t listen, and she just isn’t getting anywhere.

She said the only reason she won’t do it is because she doesn’t want to leave me with the burden of caring for her baby. I’m attending college, my husband works, and my girls are in school.

I didn’t know what to say, and Mom has now turned to alcohol. She’s a great mother; she just has her hands full. I don’t know if she knows she has a drinking problem, and I don’t want to say it because I know she’ll take offense. My little sister is not in any danger, but what can I do or say to help my mom? Oh, yes, I support my little sister already – diapers, clothing and love. Please help me. – DAUGHTER IN SANTA MARIA, CALIF.

DEAR DAUGHTER: When people start talking about ending their lives, that’s the time to see they get medical and psychological attention. I don’t know your mother, but she could be suffering from post-partum depression. (She could also simply be overwhelmed right now.) The first step in getting help for your mother is to get her to an internist or family practitioner. If she doesn’t have one, then her OB/GYN would be a good place to start.

If she can’t handle your brother, then perhaps he should stay with his father for a while, or some other older male in the family. If that’s not feasible because he’s already in trouble with the law, he may need to be made a ward of the court. Not pleasant – but better than a life of crime begun as a teenager.

Once your mother’s depression is under control, she may be less inclined to drink her troubles away. But if she continues drowning her sorrows, then Alcoholics Anonymous could help her. But only when she’s ready to admit she has a problem. (They’re in the phone book.)

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a wonderful woman for the last two years. We are trying to make it permanent, but we have one sticking point. She has several men friends, some from past relationships, that she still sees casually. She insists on spending weekends alone with them, either at their home or at her summer house in the country.

I feel this is inappropriate for someone in a serious relationship. She says I “don’t trust her,” and we cannot have a relationship unless I get over this attitude. Is she right? Am I being unreasonable? – CONFUSED IN FLORIDA

DEAR CONFUSED: Not in my opinion. And I wonder how this “wonderful woman” would feel if the shoe was on the other foot.

While I see nothing wrong with old friends – and even people who were once romantic – sharing a meal together once in a while, I draw the line at weekends alone together. But then again, I’m not in favor of “open” relationships, either. My advice to you is to rethink making this relationship permanent.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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