Sister's violent outbursts frighten rest of her family

DEAR ABBY: I have a 25-year-old sister, "Sheila," who has three beautiful children. The problem is, she does not care about herself, her kids or her family.

My mother has raised Sheila's oldest off and on since he was 8 months old. He is now 9. Sheila constantly yells, "I can't stand him! He makes me sick!" She has even gone so far as telling the boy she hates him. I have tried telling her that he is only a child. I tell her God blessed her with the ability to have children, and she should be thankful she has them. She just tunes me out.

Add to that the fact that Sheila beats our mother at times. Our stepdad died last year, and a week after the funeral my sister came in and beat up Mother.

I don't know what's going on, and the family is scared to confront her anymore because she gets really mean. Any help would be appreciated.


DEAR CONCERNED SISTER: Sheila could be mentally ill, drug-addicted or a rage-a-holic. If she would raise a hand to her mother, what might she be doing to her children? From your description of your sister's state of mind, it is possible that all the children should be removed from the home. Child Protective Services can make a determination. And if she raises a hand to your mother one more time, the police should be summoned immediately.

DEAR ABBY: I moved to Texas two years ago and met a guy there. We dated for a year, but I was never that interested in him.

I have recently moved back to California and have met someone now who I am very much in love with. I sent my "ex" an e-mail, telling him that I do not want to be with him anymore, but he thinks I am joking. I have been getting e-mails and calls from him nonstop every day since I sent the e-mail. I cannot ignore him anymore. How do I tell him to leave me alone?


DEAR BECOMING UNEASY: You did not say how long you have been involved with the "someone new," but if you recently returned to California, it cannot have been very long. Perhaps that is why your "ex" is having trouble believing it.

Write this "guy" one more e-mail. Tell him again that you are no longer interested in him, that you are now involved with someone else and that you want no more communication. If he persists, block his e-mails and change your phone number if necessary.

DEAR ABBY: My father-in-law has recently requested that when he dies, he be cremated and his ashes divided between his two daughters. My wife is his oldest, and she is not sure what to do. She loves her father very much, but feels that his ashes are just "ashes." She says it is his soul or spirit that makes him who he is, so she is reluctant to keep them. But she is uncomfortable about ignoring his wishes. What should we do?


DEAR FRETTING: When something is "bequeathed," it is a gift. And when a gift is given, it belongs to the recipient to do with as she wishes. Your wife is under no obligation to hang onto her father's ashes in perpetuity. If she prefers to scatter them, have them interred or made into a piece of art or jewelry, the choice is hers. She should listen to her heart. It will tell her what to do when the time comes.

DEAR ABBY: We have a 17-year-old granddaughter who has not spoken to us in six months. We sent "Tiffany" a Christmas card with a $50 check inside and she didn't even call to thank us. (She cashed the check immediately, though.)

We received an invitation to her graduation. It was sent by her mother (I know the handwriting). My husband says we should not go to her graduation because she hasn't called us in six months, even to say hello. He says we should just send a nice card with no money.

Please help me. What should I do? Tiffany is my grand-daughter, and I don't want to do the wrong thing. (She does have an attitude!)


DEAR FAITHFUL READER: If you think Tiffany has an attitude now, just wait until she doesn't receive what she thinks is coming to her.

While it is not unusual for many people her age to be centered on themselves and not stay in touch with a visit or a phone call, your granddaughter was rude not to acknowledge the money you sent her for Christmas. What you choose to do about this, in addition to telling her mother, will depend upon how much backbone you have. I'll say this: If you do not attend the graduation, it's a lesson she'll remember for the rest of her life.

DEAR ABBY: How should one respond to a gift of flowers that either aren't satisfactory or die shortly after arrival? Should the recipient contact the giver or the florist? I recently gifted flowers to a family member and received no fewer than four phone calls in 24 hours expressing disgust at the quality of the gift.

I have taken care of the issue with the florist, but I am a bit taken aback at the response I received from the recipient.


DEAR FRUSTRATED: Four phone calls in 24 hours from one person complaining about the flowers? I'd call that overkill. The recipient was right in letting you know that you did not get your money's worth in the gift that you sent. (How else would you know?) But you should have been thanked for the thought and for your generosity, as well as informed that you might want to change florists.

DEAR ABBY: I have had four years of really bad luck. Is there a proven method to end this streak? How is it that some folks are lucky at almost everything they do, and then there is someone like me who could really use some good luck? Any suggestions? If positive thinking is your answer, please explain that concept.


DEAR CONNIE: There is a theory that positive thinking attracts positive results. In other words, if you approach each day with an optimistic attitude, you will become more energetic, clearer in your thought process and nicer to be around. (More people around you creates more opportunities for success.)

Conversely, negative thinking can cause negative results. People who think negatively walk around with a black cloud over their heads, and people tend to avoid them. They can also become so burdened with their depression that they fail to recognize and take advantage of opportunities that come their way.


BIRTH FATHERS, STEPFATHERS, FOSTER FATHERS, TOO: Happy Father's Day, one and all! And to my father, Morton Phillips in Minneapolis, a Happy Father's Day to my one and only "Pop."

Dear Abby is written by , 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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