Dear Abby: Panhandling mother needs assistance, not a lecture

Dear Abby: I went to the market the other day, and there was a woman sitting on the sidewalk with two children – a boy who looked to be about 6 and a girl about 2. She was holding a sign asking for help ($). I wanted so badly to say something to her about what a poor example she was setting for her children by begging. It made me angry because I imagine she’s using her kids as “props” to evoke sympathy.

This is a nice area. I would think she could better present herself to her kids by looking for a job! What would have been an appropriate comment to make to her that might help put her on the right track to show her kids how to grow up to be responsible people who work for a living? – Looking Out for Children in Irvine, Calif.

Dear Looking: It’s wrong to assume anything when you see someone who is panhandling. The woman you saw could have been homeless, drug-addicted, short on money or mentally ill. She could also have fled an abusive husband or partner. That’s why it’s inappropriate to scold or lecture a panhandler.

If you had said anything at all, you might have offered that there are dozens of shelters and organizations in Irvine that help the unfortunate, and if she reached out to them, she might find the help she needs to get settled and find a job.

Dear Abby: My 6-year-old grandson, “Joey,” is the light of my life. He’s outgoing, compassionate, smart and fun. The “problem” is, he prefers girl things to boy things, and has since he was old enough to express his wants. The issue is with the father of a friend of his who will not accept who Joey is. The man yells at Joey for playing with girl things and tells his son to tell on Joey when he does girl things.

Abby, this man is the principal of a middle school. What could I say that might make him realize that this is detrimental to Joey? – Light of My Life

Dear Light: Joey’s parents should talk to that man and demand that he stop bullying their son. They should warn him that if he scapegoats a child at his school that way, he could wind up in front of the school board and lose his job. He’s not only discriminating, but also encouraging the scapegoating of at-risk children.