DEAR ABBY: You missed an opportunity with the 13-year-old girl who is dissatisfied with her bedroom and always the recipient of hand-me-downs. Telling her to get a trusted adult to speak on her behalf was tantamount to advising her to recruit someone to help her whine. At 13, shes old enough to be more proactive in making her room the way she wants it.
Her dresser and closet are overstuffed with hand-me-downs that no longer fit? Grab a box, pull out everything that doesnt fit, fold it neatly and put it in the box. These, and the neatly stacked hangers, can be donated to the Salvation Army or another group and shell have a lot of new space.
Her furniture is rickety? Can it be glued, clamped, made sturdy again and repainted?
The computer is in the study? Maybe she should clear off her desk and make room for it in her room.
She doesnt like white walls? What if she offered to paint them herself if her parents supply the paint?
She should clear out, refurbish, redecorate and grow up! She complains about her pitiable situation, which she has made no effort to remedy herself, and yet shows not one hint of understanding or compassion for her parents who are working, taking care of multiple children and who have just finished building a new house for them. Has she no concept of how much money and effort that requires?
Its time that girl stopped whining and did something for herself. She could make a tremendous change in her room by her own effort. She may also find that this independent effort may bring her the attention and respect she so obviously wants.
I DID IT, SHE CAN, TOO
DEAR DID IT: Thank you for offering the girl some other options. Its interesting that you interpreted her cry for help as whining. I viewed her as a girl who is afraid or unable to speak up for herself because she has been raised to believe that her feelings dont count and her opinions dont matter.
Yes, she could do all of the things you suggested but in the final analysis, her parents would have to permit it. Thats why I advised her to get an adult relative or close family friend to help her talk to her parents. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I read between the lines of the letter from the girl who wrote that she receives only discarded items and whose father will not paint her room. And yet, she expressed gratitude for having a home. Neglect, favoritism and enforced public gratitude could indicate an abusive, tyrannical parent or parents. While its hard to know from so brief a letter, that child may be being punished for something that was beyond her control, and be unwilling or unable to express or admit deeper problems.
I know. I was such a child.
READER IN HOUSTON
DEAR HOUSTON READER: That occurred to me, too. Thats why I advised the writer to talk to a trusted adult.
DEAR ABBY: I dont know why that girls room isnt furnished as nicely as her sisters, but her computer may have been placed in the study for a good reason: the childs safety.
My two children werent allowed to have a computer in their bedrooms until they were 18. Before that, if they wanted to use the computer/Internet, they had to use the one in the family room, which was situated so the screen was visible to anyone who passed by.
DEAR ABBY: Im 39 and divorced. I have been seeing Jesse for about three years. Hes kind, helpful, and I enjoy spending time with him. However, Jesse has said many times that he wont marry me or even live with me. He is 17 years older than I am, and has mentioned that I should be with someone my own age.
I think Jesse is secretly afraid I wont want to be with him as he ages. Its not true. I love him and treasure every moment I can spend with him. Due to a medical condition, our relationship is strictly platonic, but I dont miss sex that much. Its more important for me to be with someone who is kind and thoughtful.
My friends say I should dump him, and I should be with someone who is willing to make a commitment. I love Jesse, but I dont get to see him very often anymore, and Id like more from our relationship. I dont need happily ever after, but I would like a little commitment.
DEAR STILL HERE: If you want commitment, you will have to find it with someone else. Jesse appears to be happy with his life and your relationship just as it is. Please listen to your friends because the more you pressure this man, the less I predict you will see of him.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter was invited to a 6-year-olds birthday party at a sports event. We were asked to RSVP by a certain date, which I did. On the day of the party, my daughter got sick, so I called the mother to let her know that my daughter would not be coming. The mother said, OK, just give me $15 for her ticket tomorrow. The tickets were part of a birthday package, which I would not have had to pay for if she were attending. If siblings of any of the guests arrived, one of them could have used her ticket.
Also, I checked with the box office and the mother is charging me $5 more than the face value of the ticket! How should I handle this?
MIFFED IN AIKEN, S.C.
DEAR MIFFED: Send the mother $10 along with a sweet note, explaining that in the excitement of preparing for the party she must have confused the cost of the ticket because you checked with the box office and thats what you were told. (I wonder if you were being asked to also reimburse her for the cost of one slice of the birthday cake ...)
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in What Every Teen Should Know. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.) Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.