Pinings — Advice by Sherry Hughes

On Her Way To 'Trouble'

Dear Pinings,

There is a young girl in my neighborhood who seems to be acting out quite a bit. She is very pretty and very smart—street smart, I’d say—but I think she is on her way toward serious trouble. She’s about 15, I think, and she is home alone a lot because her mother works nights. At least I think she does. The girl is always hanging around with this guy or that guy or a group of girls who seem older than she is. She smokes too, and I’m not sure her mother knows about it.

I’m 34 and live alone down the street. Her mother isn’t a friend of mine, but we have been neighbors for several years. I am afraid that if I say anything, I’ll be considered a “buttinski.” If I don’t, she might end up pregnant or in jail or dropping out of school. Should I tell the mother what I’ve seen or keep quiet?

- Karen

Dear Karen,

I think there are other options. You might befriend this gal—invite her to go for a walk with you in the evening or hire her to do some odd jobs around your house (walk the dog? clean the garage? wash the car?) It sounds like she’s bored and 15, which is always a bad combination.

In the meantime, I’d be on the side of minding my own business. If you have a conversation with her mother and her mother asks you what you’ve seen, then by all means, be honest with her. But you run the risk of being considered a nosy neighbor if you go over there and spill the beans about all you’ve seen. Her mother might already know that her daughter smokes and that she’s hanging around with guys. 

Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers. Reach her at


2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH