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 messages me almost daily with “Hey” or similar short things. I am unable to dedicate time to this kind of interaction even within my own age group, but I feel bad leaving so many messages unanswered. What can I tell her?
I’d love to catch up around holiday times like we used to, but I’d like to be left alone online. — BUSY, BUSY IN CHICAGO
DEAR BUSY: As I see it, you have a choice: 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.
DEAR ABBY: My mom and dad are fighting and getting mad at each other a lot. I am trying my best to make them happy with each other, but nothing seems to work.
They told me they would always be happy together, but it does not look like it right now. 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 iron out their differences, but the person to suggest it should be another adult; if possible, it should be a relative.
DEAR ABBY: I am a public school teacher with an etiquette question. I receive gifts at class parties that occur at Christmas, Valentine’s Day and the end of the year. When I do, I respond with a written thank-you note a few days later.
However, during the course of the year, I also receive thank-you cards for being a child’s teacher, tutor or club sponsor. Many times these thank-you cards contain gift cards. If I open it in front of the giver, I always give a verbal thank-you, but is it required to write a thank-you for a thank-you? — WANTS TO DO IT RIGHT
DEAR WANTS TO DO IT RIGHT: A thank-you for a thank-you is not required. However, a thank-you that’s accompanied by a GIFT should be acknowledged with a written note.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)