Dear Abby: I was a full-time summer nanny for several years for the same family, now a preteen boy and girl. I loved them, had a great time on the job and have communicated with them occasionally through the years on birthdays and holidays. Eventually, I moved away for college and was no longer able to sit for them.
Both kids now are on Facebook, and I (foolishly) accepted their friend requests. I use Facebook to keep in touch with family members or for school group projects, so I am on only once or twice a week.
The girl sends messages to me almost daily with “Hey” or similar short things. I am unable to dedicate time to this kind of interaction, but I feel bad leaving so many messages unanswered. What can I tell her? I’d love to catch up around holiday times the way we used to, but I’d like to be left alone online.
– Busy, Busy in Chicago
Dear Busy: Tell her the truth, and explain it just as you have written to me, or contact her parents and have them explain it to her.
Upset about arguing parents
Dear Abby: My mom and dad are fighting and getting angry at each other a lot. I am trying my best to make them happy with each other, but nothing seems to work. What do I do?
– Needing Help in Florida
Dear Needing Help: I have heard from young readers who told me their greatest fear was that their parents would divorce. But sometimes there are worse things than being a child of divorce, and one of them is living in a household filled with tension and parents who constantly argue and fight.
You are not the cause of their unhappiness, and you cannot “fix” what’s wrong in their marriage. Although you might wish to be the peacemaker, you must accept that it is not your responsibility. A marriage counselor might be able to help them, but the person to suggest it should be another adult, preferably a relative.