Military Mom's Insults Make Daughter Yearn For Civility

Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I'm 14 and my dad is in the military, so he's away from home most of the time. I try to help Mom out as best I can, knowing she's stressed with Dad gone.

Whenever she gets mad at me, she calls me a "brat," "selfish" or a "jerk." She even told me once or twice that if she was my age, she wouldn't want to be my friend because of the way I act.

Abby, please help me. I have always tried my hardest to do what's right. How do I handle this without crying myself to sleep? -- FEELS LIKE A FAILURE

DEAR FEELS LIKE A FAILURE: Sometimes when people are under stress, as your mother is right now, they say things they don't mean. And sometimes when teens are under stress, they can act out in other ways.

A way to handle this would be to wait until your mother has calmed down and talk to her about the effect that her name-calling is having on you. Explain that you're trying the hardest you can in a difficult situation, and then both of you should apologize to each other. The bruises that unkind words can leave sometimes outlast those that are physical.


DEAR ABBY: My best friend, "Kathie," has betrayed me. This may sound silly, but my husband and I have a sort of "coat of arms." Ever since we started writing letters and notes back and forth, he has always drawn a character on them, and it turned into "our" symbol.

Kathie is in the armed forces and I made her my maid of honor. But when she showed up, she had that same character tattooed on her back! My husband was upset she chose something so intimate of ours as a tattoo, and a few people have noticed it as well. I don't know how to handle this. It feels like a slap in the face. -- ROBBED IN FLORIDA

DEAR ROBBED: It isn't a slap in the face -- it's actually the ultimate compliment to your husband's artistry and creativity. And while it would have been nice if Kathie had first asked permission, unless the symbol was trademarked she was free to use it, as is anyone else who sees it on her and admires it. Because her tattoo is offensive to you, ask her to keep it covered when she's with you. What's done is done.


DEAR ABBY: I'm a 38-year-old wife and mother who has been happily married for 16 years. My young son recently had a medical emergency in his class at school, and his teacher, "Tom," stepped in and saved him.

Since then I can't stop thinking about Tom. I love my husband and I don't plan on seeing or contacting Tom in any way other than as my son's teacher. How do I stop thinking about him? Please help. -- GOING CRAZY IN TENNESSEE

DEAR GOING CRAZY: First of all, you're not going crazy. You are grateful to the "hero" who saved your son. The more you try to smother your thoughts about Tom, the more they will happen.

The most effective way I know of to deal with this would be to talk out your thoughts with someone. If this would be too uncomfortable to discuss with your husband, then do it with a trusted female friend. Over time it should subside.


DEAR READERS: It's time for my "timely" reminder that daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday -- so don't forget to turn your clocks back one hour before going to bed. (That's what I'll be doing.)


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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