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by Abigail Van Buren

Honor Student Can't Make Grade With Protective Mom

DEAR ABBY: I am a 19-year-old college student. I live at home and have always considered myself a well-behaved "child." I'm an honors student, active in the community and school, and have never used drugs or been in trouble of any kind.

The problem is my mom. She's overprotective, and I don't know what to do. We have a very good relationship; I tell her everything about my life and am very honest with her. Yet she insists my curfew be sundown and thinks there is no such thing as having male friends. She says with men, you either love them or you hate them. I only want to go out every once in a while to the movies with friends, or just to have coffee.

I don't have a boyfriend, but she thinks any guy friend I have is a boyfriend. She has expressed to me that her preference would be for me to wait until I'm 25 to have a boyfriend. I have tried talking to her, but it doesn't work. I have tried coming home a little late, and she threatens to never let me go out again.

She has told me that she fears I'll get pregnant or married early and will never accomplish my career goals. I have assured her that won't happen, but she won't budge.

I am tired of trying to reassure her and getting yelled at for coming home at 10 p.m. Please don't suggest moving out, because that is absolutely not an option. Abby, what should I do? I have been a faithful reader of your column for seven years and trust your advice completely. -- CAGED UP IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR CAGED UP: I don't know whether your mother comes from another culture in which women traditionally have no freedom, or her relationships with men were so destructive that her perspective is distorted. By current standards, you should have been dating for several years.

It is unrealistic for your mother to expect you to make mature decisions concerning men and dating at age 25 if you've had no dating experience. Since moving is absolutely not an option, ask a contemporary of your mother's -- a relative, a clergyperson or a friend of hers -- to talk to her and explain what is normal for a 19-year-old girl.

DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter in your column about the theft of some items from a grave, it brought back painful memories of a similar incident.

My brother passed away suddenly at the young age of 39. He was a devoted St. Louis Cardinals fan and had all kinds of Cardinal memorabilia. When his body was discovered, he was wearing his cherished Cardinals jacket. It was a gift from his employees -- and he treasured it.

Because of the suddenness of his death, an autopsy had to be performed before his body was released to the mortuary. We were told at the time that his personal possessions would all be returned with the body; however, the jacket was not returned to us.

When we inquired, we were told that no one had seen it since his body was picked up. We telephoned the police, the coroner's office and the funeral home that transported his body. No one had the jacket.

I was amazed that not only do people steal from cemeteries, they also steal from dead people. -- BROKENHEARTED IN MISSOURI

DEAR BROKENHEARTED: It seems bizarre that people would steal from the deceased, but it's nothing new. Grave robbers have existed for thousands of years. Archaeologists frequently find graves stripped of valuables when they are excavating. It's deplorable, but unfortunately, some people have no respect for the dead.

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-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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