Dear Abby: I am a 17-year-old girl and a senior in high school. My parents and I (more my mom and I) have struggled with the topic of “respect” for a long time. We had a discussion about this earlier today and it led to arguing and tears.

She constantly says, “To earn respect, you must give it,”’ and I agree 100 percent.

The problem is, she doesn’t believe that she and Dad should live by that — just me. She feels that no matter how upset or annoyed I might get by something rude she or Dad says, I don’t have the right to talk back.

What upsets me is they talk rude to me all the time! How can you expect your kid not to do something when they do it as parents all the time?! Do parents have the right to talk rude if they want and expect their kids to be perfect little angels? Please help.

Needs Respect

Dear Needs Respect: Parents should model the behavior they want from their children. Sometimes it’s difficult not to react and say something impulsive (rude), but that doesn’t mean that parents — and teenagers — shouldn’t make every effort to be polite.

A step in the right direction would be to say, “When you do that, it makes me feel ...” Try it, and you may get a better reaction from your mom and dad.

Dear Abby: My son is 8 and lost his dad a year ago. His dad was never very involved in his life, even though our son begged for his attention. His dad’s sister, “Jillian,” is a children’s coach and very tough and hardcore. She has tried to have a relationship with my son, but he is pulling away from her and doesn’t want to do anything with her.

When she asks to do something with him, he refuses. I have tried to prevent friction by telling her we already have plans. It finally came to a head when she accused me of trying to keep him from his dad’s family. When I told her the truth, that her personality is too strong for my son, she replied that it’s not a good enough reason.

Jillian is an alcoholic. She drinks no matter what time of day it is, so I’m OK with the idea that my son doesn’t want to go anywhere with her. How do I handle this?

Trying To Prevent Friction

Dear Trying: When Jillian approaches you again, be as upfront with her about your own reason for not wanting your son to be with her as you were about his. You are right to worry about his safety because he would be at risk if he rode with a person who “drinks no matter what time of day it is.” And don’t let anyone talk you out of it.

Dear Abby: My best friend’s mother has dementia. It is usually worse in the evenings, but she can function during the day — somewhat. My friend and her husband both work, leaving the mother alone at home during the day with the door locked from the outside so she can’t wander off.

I have told my friend many times how dangerous this is, but she continues to do it. It makes me sick worrying about her mother, but I don’t know what to do about it.

Friend in Florida

Dear Friend: Your friend and her husband may have the best of intentions, but locking a demented person inside the house is not the answer to their problem. If a fire were to start, she might not be “with it” enough to know how to put it out or summon help. She could also fall and injure herself.

A better solution would be to find a day-care program where the mother would have company, be entertained and safely looked after. Please suggest it to them.

However, if they are not receptive, Adult Protective Services should be notified because the woman’s life could depend on it

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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