DEAR ABBY: About six months ago, my husband and I asked my 19-year-old cousin, “Danny,” to live with us. He had hit a rough spot in his life, and had been doing drugs, drinking and feeling suicidal. Since living with us, Danny no longer has these feelings and is no longer drinking or doing drugs. We are trying to help him find his direction in life.

Recently, my grandmother, who adopted Danny when he was 10 after his mother died, went to my mother’s house where my husband and I were visiting for the weekend, and began yelling at us.

First she accused us of not loving Danny and claimed we are trying to ruin his life. Then it escalated, and she was screaming at us because we didn’t ask her permission before inviting Danny to come live with us. (He was already out of her house and living with my uncle at the time.)

She also claimed Danny was “better off doing drugs and drinking” and being “home” than he is with us because she wasn’t “mean” to him like we are!

Feelings were hurt and a lot of tears were shed. When we told Danny what happened, he was confused and asked: “Where did all this come from? You aren’t bad people. I’m much happier here than anywhere else.”

Abby, where do you think all my grandmother’s hostility and anger came from? It’s the first time I’ve ever had a confrontation with her. – CONFUSED IN WISCONSIN

Assuming that your grandmother is in her right mind and not a substance abuser herself, I can only conclude that her motive was jealousy. Your achievement turns a spotlight on her failure.

DEAR ABBY: There’s a boy in my class I have known since I was 2. He’s a great athlete, but is a tad bit full of himself. He is always playing mean pranks on me and hitting me up for money, and if I don’t give him money he hits me. I ask him to stop, but he still does it. Abby, what do you think I should do? – 11 AND FRUSTRATED

You may have known this boy since he was 2, but the person you have described is a bully and an extortionist. Please inform a teacher or the school principal about the fact that he’s hitting you when you don’t give him money. And also ask your parent(s) to find you a course in self-defense. It will make you less likely to be picked on in the future.

DEAR ABBY: I am a newly single young woman just coming out of a marriage. I was recently dining alone in a local restaurant when I was sent a drink from a patron at the bar. This had never happened to me before.

Although I was flattered, I wasn’t quite sure how to handle the situation. I wasn’t interested in the gentleman sending the drink, and thus felt bad about accepting his kind gesture. What is the proper thing to do and say in this situation? – NEWLY SINGLE IN THE SOUTH

Here’s how the drill usually goes: Unless the man is a mind reader, he will send a server over to offer you a drink of your choice. When the server asks, all you have to do is smile and reply, “Please tell the gentleman thank you for his generous offer, but no thank you.” This eliminates the introduction and obligatory conversation that would normally follow should you accept the beverage.

In your case, however, the deed was already done. I would have smiled at the gentleman, taken a token sip of the drink and then asked for my check.

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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