DEAR ABBY: My brother has 15 children by eight mothers. Five are with his wife, from whom he has been separated for 16 years. My sister-in-law becomes very upset when my brother shows favoritism toward children he has outside his marriage. Until recently, she tolerated this. However, now she says she hates him more today than ever – even though they are not together.

I feel their marriage is long over, and she should not focus on what he is doing nor should she allow herself to become emotionally distraught over his behavior. It just doesn’t seem to be sinking in, and I need some advice about how I can tell her to move on with her life without sounding like a broken record. So many children out there in this world are in the same boat because of their fathers’ irresponsible behavior. – BRAVEHEART IN SYRACUSE, N.Y.

Your sister-in-law may have clung to her marriage because her religion frowns upon divorce, or she may still be hoping that your brother will grow up, wise up and come back to her. You can reason with her until you are blue in the face, but until she is ready to accept reality, nothing will change.

I don’t know who is supporting all those children financially or emotionally, but there ought to be a law against the kind of irresponsibility your brother has exhibited.

DEAR ABBY: I recently grew close to a member of the same social organization that I belong to. We have much in common. She is someone I can open up to and share my real feelings with. I can’t do that with anyone else.

Here’s the twist: She’s 15 and I’m 22. I never thought I could fall for someone that young, but she is different. She is so much more mature than anyone I know at that age. We have talked about our feelings and realize that they are mutual.

I know the law frowns upon this, and I would never go against the law. The legal age in this state is 16. I know we will still be close by then. Would it be wrong to try for more of a relationship when she turns 16? – GOT IT BAD IN CONNECTICUT

That depends upon what you mean by “more of a relationship.” While the young lady may be mature for her age, she does not have the life experience of someone your age. Intellectually she may be mature, but she may still be 15 years old emotionally.

Although the legal age in Connecticut may be 16, if I were you, I’d discuss this situation with the girl’s parents before trying for “more.” She’s their daughter, and you will need their approval in order to date her.

DEAR ABBY: A co-worker recently lost her father. An envelope was passed around asking for donations to purchase flowers for her. She anticipated our gift of flowers and requested the money instead, so she was given the cash.

No sooner was the envelope in her purse than she immediately passed around a pre-typed note thanking us for the “heavenly bouquet.” Am I wrong to have formed the opinion that she took advantage of our generosity, especially because it’s common knowledge that she has a big gambling problem?

DEAR ASKANCE: Please do not be so quick to judge your co-worker. The money may have been put toward covering the expense of her father’s funeral. However, if you are correct, the poor woman has enough problems to deal with. Please cut her some slack and let it go.

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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