DEAR ABBY: Last night, on a popular television reality show, the host repeatedly addressed a 70-something-year-old participant as young man. I have seen it many times before, of course young man, young lady, sweetie, dear, etc.

In my opinion, this borders on disrespect, regardless of the good intentions behind it. My parents actually stopped shopping at a local grocery store because the staff was always calling them young people. They were embarrassed, and I dont blame them.

I know people are trying to be nice, but I wonder how many seniors feel the way my parents do. Cant people extend kindness without being patronizing?


DEAR JENNY: Many people feel exactly as your parents do. You would think that people would be more sensitive, but many service personnel in their 20s, 30s, 40s and older make the same mistake. The way to combat it is to speak up when it happens, or, as your parents did, stop patronizing the establishment. (Nothing hits home like a sagging balance sheet.)

One woman I know told me recently how she handled it when a young server in his 20s called her young lady as he was taking her order. (Shes 50.) Her reply: Well, little man, Ill have the ...

DEAR ABBY: I am 11, and there is a boy I like. Ill call him Cole. He knows I like him, and for Valentines Day he gave me a necklace and earring set. All my friends, and even my mother, think that we are boyfriend and girlfriend. But I dont know for sure. I think the boy should ask the girl to be his girlfriend before they are officially boyfriend and girlfriend. Am I right or wrong?


DEAR PERPLEXED: Sometimes boys are too shy to make a formal request. However, when a boy gives a girl a gift on Valentines Day, you can be sure it means he has special feelings for her. I vote with your friends and mother.

DEAR ABBY: I am due to have my third baby, delivered by the same doctor who delivered my first two children.

I know some women who, after the birth of their child, have sent flowers to the doctors office as a thank-you. I also know some women who have given the flowers they received in the hospital as gifts to the nurses station and delivering doctor.

Is it customary to send a thank-you to an obstetrician, or am I thanking them with my business? (And they are certainly paid handsomely for it!) Also, is passing along flowers received in the hospital a traditional thing to do, or is it cheap and tacky?


DEAR EXPECTING: Leaving the bouquets is not tacky. Many patients leave them for hospital staff to enjoy after they are discharged. Some do it out of gratitude and generosity; others because they dont want the hassle of transporting the flowers.

You are under no obligation to send flowers to your doctor after the delivery. However, after three children, it would be a gracious gesture to write your doctor a note of appreciation for the way you have been treated during your pregnancies and deliveries. Money is no substitute in conveying that message.

To receive a collection of Abbys most memorable and most frequently requested poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.) Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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