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by Abigail Van Buren

Teens Defend Parents Who Lay Down the Law

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to Mary Lou Childs' letter about how parents today are so much more lenient with their kids, and "more concerned with being their children's pals" than with disciplining them.

First, I would like to know whose house she has been visiting. I am a 15-year-old girl, and both my younger sister and I are severely punished for anything our parents find inappropriate. Trust me, it's happened. And I can tell you, Abby, that neither of us whines or carries on when we get punished because if we don't realize our own mistake in the first place, we know that arguing won't change their minds.

Granted, my mother and father set pretty fair rules and usually leave them open for discussion. But this does not mean that we don't have rules at all. If my parents do consult with me on such issues as extending a curfew, it's only because they believe I am old enough to start forming my own opinions and looking out for my own good.

I also found Childs' comment about "when I was a kid" extremely stereotypical of adults. It's time to quit reminiscing about those days. The past is simply that -- over and done with. Maybe parents were more strict "back then," but I feel that growing up is a much more difficult task in the '90s than it was years ago. And please remember that teens today have different circumstances and rules to live by. -- LAURA N. KELLY, JOLIET, ILL.

DEAR LAURA: Thank you for an intelligent letter. Obviously you come from a home where expectations for your ability are high -- but limits are set and enforced. My response to Mary Lou Childs was that many parents seem reluctant to enforce their own rules for fear of traumatizing their little ones, and an excellent way to ensure obedience is to state one's wishes in a tone that lets the child know this is not something open for discussion. Also, Ms. Childs was writing about small children, not young adults.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to Mary Lou Childs of Eugene, Ore. In her letter she complained about how parents today, after telling their children to do something, will follow with, "OK?"

I don't know how everyone in the world does this, but when my parents say, "OK?" they are not asking if that's all right with me or opening it up for discussion. They are making sure I have heard them. (They say I have a case of "selective hearing," as all teens my age do.)

An example that I hear regularly is, "Go to bed at 10:00, OK?" And then I reply with a simple, "Yes," or else I'll go to bed right then no matter what time it is.

Abby, I am just writing to defend my parents and others like them who do not deserve to be insulted by her harsh comment. Please do not print my name. Sign me ... OFFENDED IN ARIZONA

DEAR OFFENDED: Ms. Childs' complaint was less about language and more about the issue of enforcing parental authority. You do not need to defend your parents. They appear to be doing a fine job.

DEAR ABBY: I just finished reading the letter from Mary Lou Childs -- and you are right! Totally right! One hundred percent right!

I hear it every day: "Don't do that -- OK?"

Part B cancels Part A!

Forty years as a psychiatrist and 35 years as a parent lead me to say, "Dear Abby, thank you once again." -- THOMAS P. LOWRY, M.D., WOODACRE, CALIF.

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