DEAR AMY: When we first moved into our neighborhood about eight months ago, we noticed our cat-loving neighbors starting to invite our cat, "V," into their home. They let him have free rein.
At our house, V gets a cozy bed, quality organic food and lots of love. We don't, however, let him do whatever he wants.
They have hinted that they would appreciate us giving them money for the extra food our cat eats while "vacationing" in their home.
He stays with us most nights but wanders over there during all hours.
I want to remain on good terms with my good-natured neighbors but do not want to enable their enabling by giving them money for cat food. Am I wrong? Any suggestions?
DEAR SHOO: Your cat should not be roaming the streets. In addition to the awkwardness with your neighbors, your cat could be exposed to infectious diseases such as feline leukemia.
You also could face a situation where your cat simply prefers your neighbor's house to yours and repatriates. Are you prepared to fight over custody of this cat?
If you aren't willing to keep your cat indoors, tell your neighbors, "Please don't let V into your house. We don't think it's a good idea, and we worry when we can't find him."
DEAR AMY: I had a relative's teenage daughter stay with me over a holiday weekend. She had been having issues with her parents and at school, so I thought this would give everyone a rest.
The teen is close to my older kids, and I thought they might be able to mentor and nurture her.
The weekend reminded me of the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished."
I haven't had that much drama in my house since my daughter was a teenager -- and to top it off, my kids gave her alcohol when I wasn't with them. I was disappointed.
I thought for sure that I had taught them to know better. When I tried to talk to them about it, they tried to defend it. They think it was better for them to buy her liquor and let her drink it supervised, rather than with strangers.
I'm at a loss to explain to my two adult children why this was a mess-up. They are adults and should know better.
DEAR HORRIFIED: You cannot take a troubled teenager into your house for a long weekend and "fix" her. You should only expect her to behave the way she usually behaves, only in a new environment that offers new ways to act out and new co-conspirators with whom to behave badly.
You should also not have left her under the supervision of two young adults who have no parenting experience and questionable judgment.
You don't need to continue to explain to your kids why what they did was wrong; unfortunately, many older adults also feel as they do about "supervised" underage drinking. This is why parents of teenagers need to be aware of the values and judgment of all of the people their teens hang with.
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