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Lost Custody - Vocabulary Lesson

Welcome to the vocabulary lesson for the dear Abby letter lost custody.

Let’s get started.

Young mother is frightened by threat of lost custody, to be frightened means to be scared.

So frightened is the same as scared. If you say I am frightened it means I’m scared or it means I’m afraid. Afraid, frightened, scared all mean the same thing.

And the word custody is important. Custody means ownership, means to own a person.

It really means you are the person responsible for someone else.Usually we use this with children for example if I say I have custody of my son, it means I am the person responsible for my son. The government, the courts, the law says that I am the owner of my son. I have custody that my son lives with me. so that’s what it means. This woman, she’s worried that her child, her son. she will lose custody. It means she thinks, if she gets a divorce, her husband will get custody, meaning the sun will live with him. He will have custody.

He will kind of own the child. The child will live with him so she’s worried that if she gets a divorce, the husband would get custody, she would lose her son.

And then threat in the same sentence, she’s frightened by the threat of lost custody.

So this has not happened yet, a threat is something that seems dangerous. It means something that might hurt you but it hasn’t hurt you yet. not yet, but it might hurt you. For example if I have a gun and I point the gun at you, I have the gun I’m yelling at you saying I’m going to kill you. That is a threat. I have not hurt you yet, I have not killed you yet, but I’m saying I will. So it’s a possible danger. It means someone could possibly hurt you, so her husband could possibly take the child.

The threat of lost custody. And then in the first paragraph of this letter we have the word belittles.

To belittle and she says her husband always belittles me, always belittles her, to be little means to insult and criticize. but in a really bad way, you try to make someone feel small. That’s where the word comes from. Belittle means you always putting them down, always saying bad things to them, so for example you’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’ll never succeed, you’re always going to fail, there’re something wrong with you…

Okay? I am belittling you, right? I am saying bad things to you to make you feel very small, make you feel weak. so it’s a verb, to belittle, to make someone feel small by insulting them again and again.

In the second paragraph we have the word unfit. She says the man, The husband’s might tell the judge, might tell the government that she is an unfit mother.

Unfit means not good enough, not good enough to be something so an unfit mother means a mother who’s not good enough to be a mom. she should not be a mother. She cannot take care of her children. She’s unfit. She’s not good enough, she can’t do the job. You say he is an unfit teacher. It means he’s not good enough to teach. He should not teach. This is a very strong word. So it doesn’t mean bad, it’s stronger than bad. If you say he is a bad teacher, it means he’s maybe boring or maybe he’s not very good but it doesn’t unfit, is it more than that. Unfit means terrible… terrible… terrible should not be a teacher at all, he does not have the skills, maybe he never went to college, maybe he doesn’t know the subject at all. That’s why we would say he is unfit. Unfit mother is not just a bad mother, it’s a mother who cannot take care of her child at all.

Alright and then in the next line, We have the phrase to be better off. She says I know my son won’t be better off with my husband.

Won’t be better off, to be better off, means to have a better situation or to have a better life. It can also have the idea of …to have an improved life, improved. So she’s saying, she doesn’t think her son would have a better life with her husband. She thinks he would not be better off with the husband. not have a better life.

In the same paragraph we see the phrase on disability.

On disability, disability means exactly what it says. ability means you can do something, right? Some skill or something you can do. Disability means something you cannot do. Usually we use this word for something physical, for example if I’m in a wheelchair it means I cannot walk. Right? I don’t have the ability to walk I have a disability, I can’t walk. I have a disability or if I’m blind, I can’t see. I say I have a disability. But this phrase to be on disability is a little different now she’s talking about a government program disability. The American government pays money to people who have problems. physical problems. Maybe they can’t work so the government will give them money every month and that program, the government program is called disability that’s the kind of casual name for it. so to be on disability means you get a check from the government because you have some kind of problem. now might be a big problem, very serious or might actually be something fairly small. We don’t know when this letter we don’t know it’s serious or not. But anyway she’s getting a check from the government because of some physical problem or illness or something like that.

And then finally in the last little paragraph she asked Abby on should I stick it out with my husband?

should I stick it out. to stick it out means, to stay, It means to continue doing something. For example I’m going to stick it out at my job that means I’m going to continue working my job. Now stick it out, we use it in situations that are difficult or unpleasant, not fun right? if you stick out a job, if you say I’m going to stick it out at my job, it has the idea that your job is not fun. Right? you don’t like your job but you will continue doing it anyway. So she doesn’t really like her husband but she’s asking should I stick it out with my husband. Meaning okay she doesn’t enjoy her husband she doesn’t like him but maybe she should keep trying anyway. maybe she should stay with him and continue with him anyway. So stick it out, to continue with the situation that is not easy or that is unpleasant.

And finally she signs this, Trapped in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire is a state. It’s a part of the United States, in the northeast part of the country. To be trapped means you can’t leave. Right? it means you’re stock. you are for example I’m trapped in my room. It means my door is locked and I cannot get out, I cannot leave my room, I’m trapped in the room. To be trapped in a job means you out you’re in the job but you can’t leave the job. Maybe you can’t find a new one so you… but you need money so you can’t leave the job you’re trapped in the job she feels trapped in her marriage. She doesn’t like her husband, he’s not a good guy but she feels she can’t leave because she’s afraid to lose her son. So she feels like she can’t leave the marriage. So that’s what she signs it trapped in New Hampshire.

Alright that is all of the vocabulary for this little dear Abby letter. Move on to the mini story next.

Bye-Bye.

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