Dear Annie: I am a single mom of a 4-year-old boy who is being abused by my ex-husband and his wife. After a visit, he comes home bruised and scratched with black eyes. He has had scabies more than a dozen times. The worst thing is that my son was just diagnosed with PTSD.
I don’t speak negatively about his father. But when it’s time for my son to visit him, he cries and begs to stay home. He says, “Daddy hurts me, and I’m scared of him.” My son sees a child therapist, and she is worried for his mental health. My son’s teachers, pediatrician and therapist have all called Child Protective Services, but for some reason, they don’t investigate. I was told they don’t consider this abuse.
How can people say that? My son has such horrible nightmares after coming home from his Dad’s house that he has bedtime accidents. I have gone to court and used all of my money to retain lawyers, and I have lost every time. I am now broke and on the verge of going on the run to protect him. What can I do? Is there anybody who can help?
— Angela, No State, Please
Dear Angela: We do not understand how Child Protective Services could ignore abuse reports from teachers, pediatricians and therapists. Something isn’t adding up. We called the Department of Children and Family Services in Chicago, and they suggested you contact your state child abuse hotline and report the situation. You also can try the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) (childhelp.org).
Dear Annie: My husband and I are a blended family with grown stepchildren and grandchildren. His three married kids all have triple-digit incomes and own upscale homes. I have two daughters, neither of whom makes that kind of money.
How do we keep things equal when it comes to gift giving? After all, his children will receive more of our assets compared to mine. How do you make this fair when there are 10 recipients on one side and four on the other? (Don’t even get me started on inheritances.)
— Don’t Want My Kids Shortchanged
Dear Don’t: Are these gifts given jointly, or do you spend on your kids and he spends on his? If the former, each child should get gifts of equal value. If the latter, he gets to decide what he spends, and so do you, equal or not. The fact that his children are better off doesn’t mean they should be punished any more than yours should be rewarded for having less.
Please do not let this become an issue of contention with your husband. The partner with the greater income has an obligation to take on a greater share of the financial burden within the marriage, but that does not necessarily extend to grown children and grandchildren. The two of you should talk to an estate planner now about what will happen down the road, and be sure you can accept the outcome.
Dear Annie: “Retired Teacher” said that school counselors are not helpful when it comes to family or emotional issues.
I am here to assure you that “Retired Teacher” is wrong. In my 14 years as a high school counselor, I have wiped many tears, counseled thousands of students, held hundreds of family counseling sessions (after school, unpaid) and helped students work through death, suicide, rape and more. My former students often seek me out for advice after graduation and have invited me to their weddings and baby showers. Several students, and their parents, have commented that I am the only adult they will confide in.
— Green Bay High School Counselor
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.