Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: My 11-year-old daughter sometimes gets scared at night and thinks she hears voices and someone walking near her room. When this happens, my husband will say with complete seriousness, "Perhaps there's an intruder in the house," and then suggest how the intruder may have entered.

The method he suggests is always related to something I have done wrong earlier -- like leaving the back door open too long or forgetting to shut a window.

When I ask him to check the house for intruders (OK, I'm old-fashioned and a scaredy-cat), he says he's too tired and goes to sleep. What's going on here? Is he playing a mind game with my daughter and me, or am I overreacting? -- COWARDLY IN S.F.

DEAR COWARDLY: Your husband's behavior is cruel and unwise. He's encouraging your daughter's fears as a way of punishing you for your forgetfulness. If it continues, your daughter will have phobias that could last a lifetime; it's mental cruelty.

P.S. If there is any question about whether there's an intruder in your house, you should NOT be checking the house alone. The results could be tragic. So the next time the king of your castle pulls that "turning-over-and-going-to-sleep" number, make sure he doesn't reach dreamland.

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DEAR ABBY: I'm a 16-year-old girl. My mom passed away last February. I have a caring and loving father, but at 69, he's a workaholic. This leaves me with school, cleaning, cooking, yard work and taking care of my teenage brothers. Neither of them helps out with anything, and they have no respect for me. If I ask them to do something, they just say I'm not their mom and call me names.

When I tell Dad, he says he'll handle them, but he never does. I'm tired of it! Please help me. I want to run away and never come back. Maybe then they'll think about me. -- DROWNING IN LAWTON, OKLA.

DEAR DROWNING: All of you are grieving right now, and part of your brothers' bad behavior may be that they're angry at having lost their mother. Your father may not realize how unfair the burden is that has been placed on your young shoulders.

Make a list of chores that all of you should share, including your own. Indicate what they are, what days they should be done and who should do them. If your brothers don't do theirs, don't nag. Let them remain undone. That takes the responsibility off your shoulders. You are a good daughter, and you cannot -- nor should you -- do everything. With your mother gone, every one of you is going to have to do his or her fair share.

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DEAR ABBY: While shopping at the supermarket yesterday, I noticed a woman removing the coupons from the boxes of plastic bags. I watched her take about 10 of them.

When I walked past her, I told her I thought what she was doing was very rude. She said she was going to use them. Abby, she didn't buy any of the boxes of plastic bags. Should I have found the store manager and said something? -- APPALLED IN VERSAILLES, OHIO

DEAR APPALLED: You should certainly have reported "Ms. Sticky Fingers" to the manager. What the woman was doing was more than rude; it was shoplifting.

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Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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