Dear Annie: I have five younger brothers who mean everything to me. Three of them still live with my mother. Mom lived with an abusive man for years. When I was 11, she chose this man over me and put me in a foster home for two years. He is now out of the house and away from my precious little ones, but I’m afraid it’s temporary. Mom claims she is glad he’s gone, but I know she can’t stand being alone and doesn’t have the best judgment. I think he’ll be back.
How can I make her see that as much as being alone is hard on her, she needs to grow up and be a mother to her children? I called the police and DCF and reported this man’s crimes, but nothing happened. I wish I could get custody of my brothers, but there is no way I could support so many people. How do I keep them safe? How can I make sure my mother doesn’t invite this man back into her house? — Scared for Them
Dear Scared: You cannot do anything about your mother’s choices. You can only keep an eye on the situation, and if this man returns, report it immediately to the police and DCF. While there would need to be evidence or corroboration of abuse for the authorities to take action, your vigilance may make it unpleasant enough that Mom will keep this man at arm’s length.
Is the boys’ father in the picture? Are there other relatives who would take the boys? You are a kind and caring sibling, but sometimes these things are beyond your control. Do what you can, and make sure your brothers are aware that you care. They need to know you’re in their corner.
Dear Annie: I am a teenage boy and have been chubby all my life. So, I started not eating much and, four weeks later, have lost 20 pounds. But not eating is driving me crazy. I had to go home from school early the other day because I started having random seizures.
Annie, I know I should eat again, but since I’ve lost weight, I’ve gotten much more popular. The girl I like even hugged me yesterday. So should I start eating normally again, or can I keep on skipping meals? — Starving in Florida
Dear Florida: Please start eating, or you’ll end up in the hospital. Starvation eventually shuts down your entire body. You could die. You know this is a bad way to lose weight, but here’s something you might relate to better: Starvation diets do not work in the long term. You are likely to go right back to your old eating habits.
You already have dropped 20 pounds. Fine. Talk to your parents today, tell them what’s going on and ask them to make an appointment to see your doctor. Or talk to the school counselor or a favorite teacher. You need to reintroduce healthy foods into your system. If you eat a balanced diet and get a reasonable amount of exercise, you will be able to keep that weight off without starving yourself. You will be healthier and happier.
Dear Annie: I’d like to respond to “Working Hard,” who resents a co-worker who does nothing all day while the rest of them are unappreciated: Suck it up.
For the past 10 years, I have worked at the greatest job of my life. But the company has some real numbskulls in upper management. They make bad decisions, and there is also blatant favoritism. There are always employees who get fed up and leave for greener pastures or stand up to management and get fired. Each one of them has told me they wish they had stayed.
I would rather keep my job and ignore the annoying things that go on in most companies. — Yes Man
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.