Teacher mulls con­tact­ing in­car­cer­ated for­mer stu­dent

The Progress-Index Weekend - - AMUSEMENTS - Jeanne Phillips 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 www.Dear­Abby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069.

DEAR ABBY: Twelve years ago, I taught a boy I’ll call Bran­don in my first-grade class. I was very fond of him, and we had a strong con­nec­tion. I knew Bran­don had a tough home life and did my best to pro­vide him a safe place in my class­room. I stayed in con­tact with his aunt over the years on so­cial me­dia be­cause she had been a co-worker of my mother’s, and we would oc­ca­sion­ally dis­cuss how Bran­don was do­ing.

As he grew older, he be­gan to as­so­ciate with a bad crowd. He got in more and more trou­ble at school and even­tu­ally dropped out. A few months later, he was sent to prison for a vi­o­lent crime.

His aunt has asked me to send Bran­don a let­ter be­cause he had al­ways thought so much of me as his teacher. With­out giv­ing it much thought, I agreed.

Well, my hus­band is very op­posed to the idea of me con­tact­ing Bran­don. We have two young chil­dren with spe­cial needs, and I’m now a stay-at-home mom so I can help my chil­dren. My hus­band thinks I’m al­ready deal­ing with too much stress, and he doesn’t like the idea of a man who has been con­victed of vi­o­lence be­ing in con­tact with me.

I am torn about what’s the right thing to do. I feel like I am aban­don­ing Bran­don like so many oth­ers in his life, but I also see my hus­band’s point. Abby, please help me to de­cide what to do. — CON­FLICTED IN ILLI­NOIS

DEAR CON­FLICTED: I think you should write Bran­don ONE let­ter of en­cour­age­ment. In it, tell him how highly you thought of him when he was in your class be­cause he prob­a­bly hasn’t re­ceived many com­pli­ments for a long time.

Point out that although he is phys­i­cally in­car­cer­ated, his mind doesn’t have to be, and sug­gest he di­rect his ef­forts to­ward im­prov­ing his life once he is re­leased. Fur­ther­ing his ed­u­ca­tion now would be a way to ac­com­plish it, and if there’s an op­por­tu­nity for him to earn a de­gree while he’s in­side, he should take it. Also, if there are any books you or his aunt think he might find help­ful or in­spir­ing, rec­om­mend them.

Close your let­ter by ex­plain­ing to Bran­don that you have no time for cor­re­spon­dence now be­cause you are car­ing for two spe­cial-needs chil­dren, but you did want to reach out this once and you will keep him in your prayers.

DEAR ABBY: I wanted to write you in re­sponse to let­ters you have pub­lished in your col­umn about stress­ful, tra­di­tional, iron-clad hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions be­com­ing too much for the hosts.

For most of 40 years, my par­ents hosted all hol­i­day din­ners, which were at­tended by as many as 14 peo­ple. My wife and I fi­nally said, “No more!” We made reser­va­tions for Thanks­giv­ing at a nice restau­rant and hosted the fam­ily. It was beau­ti­ful — fam­ily, food, cock­tails and no prepa­ra­tion or cleanup. Mom and Dad said it was the best Thanks­giv­ing they could re­mem­ber. We thought so, too. Just sayin’. — SHAR­ING A ME­MORY IN WIS­CON­SIN

DEAR SHAR­ING: I’m sure your par­ents en­joyed the process of en­ter­tain­ing the fam­ily for the many years they did it. But it is also nice when some­one else does the work. I’m print­ing your let­ter so other read­ers can see there is more than one way to skin a cat — or en­joy a turkey with stuff­ing.

DEAR READ­ERS: Here we go again. This is my an­nual re­minder that day­light sav­ing time ends at 2 a.m. Sun­day. Don’t for­get to turn your clocks back one hour at bed­time tonight. And while you’re at it, re­mem­ber to change the bat­ter­ies in your fire alarms and smoke de­tec­tors.

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