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Young relative always on hunt for cash, gifts

DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughter has an 11-year-old daughter I’ll call “Kristina.” Kristina is very well-behaved, but she’s being taught at home that love is measured in dollars. She is constantly hinting about gifts and candy she wants. It has gotten so bad that when I keep her, I postpone errands because she invariably finds something in every store that she needs or wants.

I don’t mind buying her things from time to time, but the items I purchase are sometimes returned to the store or sold by her mother. Although Kristina is an only child, she is not my only grandchild.

If I buy a gift for another grandchild, I have to hide it because Kristina thinks it’s hers. If she sees money on my dresser, she talks about how much cash others have given her. She helps herself to our candy dish without asking permission and sometimes muses about how many gifts dead relatives would have given to her if they were still alive.

Then there’s her birthday. After Christmas each year, she starts hinting that her birthday is coming up. Abby, she was born in July. For six months, almost without exception, she brings up her birthday in every conversation until she’s sure I have bought her a gift. I have tried a variety of responses, but she’s not getting the hint.

Don’t even suggest that I talk with her parents about it, because they spend money they don’t have to buy her gifts and then struggle to pay bills. They also don’t seem to appreciate what we do for them and don’t always thank us. Any other suggestions you could give me would be appreciated. – Tired of the Manipulation

DEAR TIRED: Talk to Kristina’s parents again. This time, tell them exactly what you have told me – that her main topic of conversation is what she wants you to give her on the next gift-giving occasion, because it seems obsessive. Tell them you have gotten the impression that their daughter seems to regard you as less of a loving grandparent than a toy vending machine, and it is unsubtle and obnoxious.

Then, if they don’t pass along the message – which would allow Kristina to save face – you should do it. If you go along with this current scenario, her bad behavior will only continue.

DEAR ABBY: I love my doorman. I am married and older than he is. He is married, too. I’ve known him for years, and I flirt with him all the time. He flirts back and gets really red in the face.

One day, he came up to my apartment to help me with something. I purposely had on a see-through slip. I wanted to kiss him. I did catch him staring at me, but he was very polite and didn’t try anything. I’m just wondering whether I should try to kiss him next time or try to stay away from him. He really makes me crazy. – Big Crush in New York

DEAR CRUSH: You owe your doorman an apology for what you have been doing. If you care at all for this person, do not jeopardize his job by taking this further. If you do, this adventure will not have a happy ending.

DEAR READERS: Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere – birth fathers, stepfathers, adoptive and foster fathers, grandfathers, and all of you caring men who mentor children and fill the role of absent dads.

P.S. Also, a big shout-out to dual-role moms. I applaud you all – today and every day. – Love, Abby

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.