Dear Annie: My husband has a brother, “Bart,” who is several years younger. They are not particularly close, but we socialize on holidays. Bart has two daughters, a 20-year-old and a 7-year-old, both living at home in their small town. The family has lived a fairly isolated life. Bart is a pessimistic, rather unhappy and very self-absorbed guy. His wife is quiet and antisocial. My mother-in-law helps them financially and has always been available as a babysitter.
My husband and I are concerned about the older daughter, “Laurie.” She has written very specific narratives on Facebook that have caused alarm. Laurie says she was constantly bullied as a child and recounted times when her father slapped her so hard, her nose bled and she urinated on herself. She says her ex-boyfriend was abusive, and she has attempted suicide eight times.
Knowing that a minister lives next door to them, we called and asked for advice. Sadly, he stated that he is afraid to confront Bart because of his quick temper and fear of further reprisals against Laurie. He said the family is quite isolated, no one visits, and they don’t see other people socially. My daughter contacted Facebook, and they left resources and the number of a suicide hotline for Laurie. She attends college, and I’m sure there are counseling services there. What else can we do?
— Worried Aunt
Dear Aunt: Laurie is fortunate to have family members who care so much about her welfare. It is difficult to assess what is true in a Facebook narrative. Laurie can post whatever she likes, and there is no way to confirm it. However, based on the minister’s comments and Laurie’s isolated family life, it is better to err on the side of protecting her.
She has been given resources through Facebook. She has counselors available at college. You also could contact her privately and let her know she can come to you if she needs help. If you believe there is ongoing physical abuse, urge her to call the Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Dear Annie: I often babysit my 3-year-old granddaughter. She recently has developed allergies, and they suspect one trigger is my dog. Her family has a dog that stays outside. Mine is an indoor pet. My granddaughter loves the dogs.
Before my granddaughter visits, I vacuum, clean, dust and put my dog in a separate room. I do not have any carpeting. The allergic reaction doesn’t occur every time she visits, but I’m getting the impression that her parents want me to get rid of my dog. My dog is part of the family, and I cannot see doing this. But I also don’t like seeing my granddaughter suffer. What should I do?
— Torn Grandma
Dear Torn: We know you are doing your best to keep your home dander-free for your grandchild, but it’s difficult to achieve that goal. Ask the parents whether you can go with them to the girl’s next pediatrician appointment and discuss your options. The doctor may offer alternatives that will allow you to keep your beloved animal.
Dear Annie: I felt the need to respond to “Disgusted Parent,” whose son’s teacher accused him of plagiarism.
I am a middle school language arts teacher. As part of our curriculum, especially now that we have adopted the Common Core Standards, I teach my seventh graders the difference between what is and is not plagiarism. I teach them to remember that “when in doubt, cite it!”
In spite of what “Disgusted Parent” said, the majority of teachers do indeed teach their students how to think, read and write. I also require them to support their thinking in their writing. If this young man used someone else’s information, even if he put it in his own words, he still must cite the source
— Nash County, N.C.
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