Dear Abby

Stepmom Tries Too Hard to Be 'One of the Girls'

DEAR ABBY: My dad recently married someone much younger, so my sister and I have a new stepmom. "Tori" has no children of her own. She's nice, but she's trying too hard.

She constantly tries to make "girl talk" about personal things that girls our age talk about with sisters and friends, but not their parents. She also insists on doing things together during our visitations. She takes us clothes shopping and tries to tell us what we should wear.

Tori never knocks before coming into the room where we stay at Dad's, even when she knows we're getting dressed. She says, "We're all girls." She actually spends more time with us than our dad does, but there is such a thing as too much attention.

Tori is now planning an "all girls weekend" for the three of us. Because we'll be sharing one hotel room, there won't be a minute's peace from her. We don't want to hurt her feelings since she's trying so hard -- unlike friends of ours who have the opposite problem with their stepmoms.

How can we discuss boundaries without hurting her feelings? -- TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT, SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

DEAR TOO CLOSE: You're right, your stepmother is trying too hard. Chalk it up to the fact that she's much younger than your father, is new to the role she's playing and is trying to relate to you as an equal.

What concerns me about your letter is the fact that you are spending more time with your father's wife than you are with him. That's not what visitation is for. My advice is to talk to your mother and father about this, privately. And please do it soon, so an intervention with Tori can be managed before she alienates those she's trying so hard to befriend.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a 44-year-old single woman who considers herself fairly progressive. I have a rewarding career, great family, terrific friends and I date occasionally. One old-fashioned sticking point that is annoying me more and more: I'm sick to death of men I meet who say, "Call me on Saturday" -- or whenever they want to be contacted. What I tell them is, "Call ME if you want to see me." Then they don't bother to call.

Female friends my age and older say it should be up to the man to call the woman. Younger ones say if I'm interested, I should call the guy. I figure if he doesn't call, he's not really interested.

I currently work at home and can appreciate a hectic schedule. When I'm traveling, things can be wild -- so logically, I expect a man to call me if he's interested because the last thing I'd want to do is to interrupt him during his workday. Who is right? -- STICKLER IN PALATINE, ILL.

DEAR STICKLER: Coming from a generation that was raised to believe that the man should always call the woman, it is not easy to take the initiative and make a call. However, the rules of dating have changed since you were taught those restrictions.

It's time you learned a few new tricks -- and the people who can teach you are your younger friends. Let them give you a lesson or two and try some role-playing. I'm sure you'll have the technique down in no time.

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