DEAR AMY: I am a mother of two young children: a daughter, age 4, and a 1-year-old boy. They currently go to my husband’s cousin’s house for child care every day. My oldest has been going there for over two years, along with our nephew and niece (who are the same age). Our family member (along with her helpers) provides wonderful care. I know they are safe and well looked after. Every summer, another family member sends her three foster children to the same house for child care. This was their day care from before they were school age. Although these children are older than ours, they are not allowed to be at home under the supervision of the oldest child, a 13-year-old boy, because he has shown behavioral issues. He was temporarily removed from his home once over violent threats toward his younger brother, and has been ordered to attend mandatory counseling, as he has been making violent statements in his school setting. He has also sent text messages to his female classmates stating he is going to violate them sexually. This very much worries me. I don’t know what to do if I find out he will be going to our day care for summer vacation again. I feel I will offend our family member by insinuating that something could happen to my children under her watch, and I feel the rest of the family would think I’m being unreasonable. This boy took a shine to my daughter last year over these summer months. I’m now worried about him being that close to my children every day. Am I overreacting? What is the best way to deal with this?

Worried Mother

DEAR WORRIED: Three additional children with this wide age range sounds like a huge challenge for a day care provider; I can’t imagine many 13 year olds who would do well in an all-day environment which includes his own siblings, as well as preschoolers and at least one toddler. It’s an extreme age range, and this does not sound like a good situation for him. Given what you report, it also doesn’t sound like a good situation for the younger children. I agree with your concern.

You should inquire about this summer. Will the older boy be present (perhaps they’ve found a specialized program for him)? If the older boy is going to be present, you should express your concerns, and all of the adults involved should put their heads together to try to find a workable solution. You might need to find another day care for the summer.

When dealing with family members about this, keep in mind that some people automatically assume a defensive position, even when they’re not being attacked. Your tone should be neutral and focused on a solution. Your foster nephew is going through an extremely tough patch, and you should express compassion for him. But your own children’s well-being is on the line, and you will have to be stalwart, steady and focused — always — on their safety.

DEAR AMY: My ex-wife and I have been divorced for eight years. We have a 9-year-old son together. We both have recently been having these “I think I wanna try again” thoughts, now that we’re both older and realize what a special relationship we had. Do you see her coming back to me soon?


DEAR ANXIOUS: Sorry, but I left my crystal ball in my other jacket. I can’t predict anyone’s behavior.

If you two decide to try to reunite, I hope you will do so very carefully. Try “dating” before running together at high speed. Understand that, even though you are both more mature, the issues that caused you to divorce likely won’t have gone away. Have you both changed?

Be very cautious around your son. It would be an emotional roller coaster for him if you two came together, only to split again.

DEAR AMY: “Upset Niece” was insulted because her aunt didn’t disclose that she has cancer. I have a chronic illness. I don’t always keep my sisters, nieces, nephews and extended family in the loop because it is a very personal struggle. In addition to the physical realities of the illness, there are mental repercussions to being ill, and it is an exhausting state in which to live sometimes.

Also Private

DEAR PRIVATE: I’ve heard from many people who say that it is simply too exhausting to deal with others’ feelings, questions and opinions while they are also wrestling with serious health challenges.


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