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DEAR ABBY: I have a super-sensitive adult child who calls me regularly to criticize another sibling. Mothers do not like to hear their children being criticized by anyone -- including their siblings. It's hurtful, no matter who does it.

I'm an old lady, and I don't need this stress. I love all my children. They all are successful people with friends who seem to admire them. I suspect there may be some jealousy involved in these complaints. Suggesting counseling would make me the "bad guy."

I need a miracle and a prayer because I have gone to my knees over this. Any advice for me, Abby? -- STILL THEIR MOM

DEAR STILL: I sure do. Your mistake has been allowing yourself to be a dumping ground for your disgruntled adult child. The next time it happens, tell him or her you no longer want to hear those criticisms because they are so painful that they drive you to your knees.

If your "child" doesn't stop the critical comments, be the bad guy and suggest either counseling or that the complainer address those comments directly to the target. And when you do, point out that we can't change other people, but we can change the way we react to them.

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DEAR ABBY: Halloween is approaching. Years ago, when my sons were in preschool, their teacher told parents about the "Candy Witch." She said most kids -- especially little ones -- like wearing costumes and going trick-or-treating. However, getting the candy is not as important.

She suggested parents have their kids pick out 10 pieces of candy and leave the rest out for the Candy Witch. In return, the next morning they would find a little toy (or a new book or school supply) left for them. It would be up to the parents to decide what to do with the leftover candy.

We did this for many years, and there was never an argument over how much candy our kids would eat. I hope you agree this is a helpful suggestion. -- LOVES THE CANDY WITCH IN ALBUQUERQUE

DEAR LOVES: Not only do I agree, but I'm also sure any parent whose child has overdosed on sugar will too. Thanks for sharing it.


DEAR ABBY: Please let your readers know that it's not OK to floss their teeth after eating at their office desk, or in front of others while making conversation. It's disgusting! Their keyboards are covered with the debris. I'm sure you will agree with me. -- GROSSED OUT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR GROSSED OUT: You bet I do. Oral hygiene should be taken care of in the restroom, not while standing in front of other people and conversing. And the sink should be rinsed and wiped out afterward. To floss while talking to someone could result in particles of food hitting the other person.

One would think common sense would discourage individuals from flossing at their computers, but if common sense is in short supply, perhaps your supervisor or your employer could "remind" the offenders that the equipment belongs to the company and needs to be treated with respect.

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