DEAR ABBY: I have read your column for as long as I can remember. My husband died from a drug overdose, and I am a widow at 32. He was a good man before the drugs, but he wouldn't stop and I was helpless to intervene. I am now raising our two sons alone.
My problem is my brother is headed down the same road, and I don't know how to help him. I don't have the money to send him to rehab, and he doesn't think he has a problem. He has lost his job, has no vehicle and is losing what friends he has left.
I don't want to turn my back on him or lose him the way I lost my husband. I know he needs rehab or therapy, but with the lack of funds I don't know where to turn. Furthermore, how do I explain this to my 9- and 10-year-old sons? The most influential man in their life is setting a terrible example. -- CAN'T TURN AWAY FROM MY BROTHER
DEAR CAN'T TURN AWAY: If seeing your husband die from an overdose wasn't enough to convince your brother it was time to get into a substance abuse program, then nothing you can do will. There are two things that are more important in your life than he is, and those are your two sons. A narcotics addict destroying his life is a very poor role model.
Your boys are old enough to know how dangerous drugs are and that they caused the premature death of their father. Do not permit them to be in the presence of anyone who is abusing drugs and spiraling downward, or they will grow into adolescence thinking it is normal. Your brother is the only person who can help himself get back on his feet, no matter how much you might wish it were otherwise.
DEAR ABBY: I don't understand divorced women and the restrictions they put on their exes about what they can and can't do with their children. ("You can't let him go to the pool party; he might drown"; "She can't visit with your mother; she has a cat"; "Don't make him rake leaves; that's your job!") Instead, they should be grateful these fathers are active parts of their children's lives. Too many fathers simply walk away. Unless the dad is actively harming the child, they have no right to dictate what their ex does with his kids on his time.
Remember, ladies, you made a baby with him. He is their dad and he has every right to parent as he sees fit, even if it differs from your own philosophy. And dads, don't let your ex try to tell you that you are a bad parent because you let your kid go roller skating and she broke her arm. It is not your fault. Things like that happen all the time, even to kids whose parents are still together. So stand up for your right to be a real dad! -- UNSYMPATHETIC MOM IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR MOM: If I were you, I'd keep my head down and not get caught in the crossfire. It's not that you lack sympathy, but you obviously don't relate to the women you hear complain. While some of them may seem controlling or hyper-protective, others may have valid concerns about their children's safety while they're with Dad.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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