DEAR AMY: We have had a 13-year-old staying with us for four months. She came home with our daughter and asked if she could stay for a week, and we were very happy that she stayed on. Now her 23-year-old sister wants to have her leave our home and live with her and her boyfriend. The problem is they can’t seem to make ends meet. I have seen this child grow and change and really come out of her shell since she has lived with us. She brings a lot of joy to our home. I feel like her leaving would break a part of me that is already wounded. I told the girl that we are in her corner either way. And she says she enjoys the stability of our home. What should I do?

Devastated Mom

DEAR MOM: Families like yours who take in and take care of unrelated children form an informal network of compassion and caring. Scores of adults report that they wouldn’t have survived their teen years without their neighbors, or their friends’ parents, providing shelter, affection, encouragement and support.

You don’t mention this girl’s parents or provide details about her family situation, but if she is living with you without her parents’ permission, you could be in some legal jeopardy for harboring her. That’s a worst-case scenario regarding your own risks.

You should research the laws in your state to see what your legal risks and responsibilities are. If she continues to live with you, you should consider trying to pursue guardianship status in order to make important decisions (regarding schooling and medical care) on her behalf.

I applaud your actions. However, I’m also concerned by your indication that this girl is filling some sort of deep hole in your own life.

Perhaps you have survived a tragedy, and this young person’s presence in your household is helping you to heal. This is a blessing for everyone. But this child has needs, too, and you must not add to her burden by assigning her the responsibility of healing your adult wounds.

You are absolutely right to let her know that you are in her corner. You (and your spouse, if you have one) should meet with the girl’s older sister and that young woman’s boyfriend to try to discern if they can provide a safe environment and are really equipped to handle this responsibility. Can they ensure that the child will get to school each day? Can they afford to have her with them (it sounds as if they can’t).

If the girl chooses to live with them, you should stay connected. Perhaps you could take her to school some mornings, provide her with homework help after school or have her with you on the weekends.

Leave your door open.

DEAR AMY: Our daughter is getting married next year. We are hosting a reception. When our son got married, some women friends came as a group for the wedding ceremony. Their husbands arrived together later — just in time for the sit-down dinner reception. I felt hurt by this behavior. Is this normal/acceptable behavior? Am I being too sensitive? My husband and I try to be respectful of others and attend weddings together and on time. I know we must invite both members of a couple, but I would prefer to invite the people who really care about my daughter and who wish to see the ceremony. Your thoughts?

Still Stung

DEAR STUNG: I don’t think it is “normal” or acceptable to skip a wedding ceremony and head straight to the reception, unless there is an obvious conflict or reason to do so. People who do this casually must think that wedding hosts don’t notice — but of course you do. And yes, unless you are aware of a valid reason to miss the ceremony, you (rightfully) feel disappointed and disrespected.

All the same, you can’t mitigate for rudeness which might or might not happen in the future, even if you can see it coming down the pike. If you invite these friends, you should include their spouses.

DEAR AMY: “Wondering Mother” has a young adult daughter living at home who refuses to divulge her whereabouts, or say who she is with. Our daughter was in a serious accident and we had a terrible time trying to figure out where she was or what had happened. Since that time, we all text and check in whenever we have arrived somewhere safely.

Safety First

DEAR SAFETY: It is so easy to do.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months