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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My 17-year-old daughter (I'll call her Carrie) was dating a young man I'll call Brad for approximately nine months. Carrie has a part-time job that pays for her entertainment and also her gas and minor repairs to the car her father and I gave her. When the two of them went out, Carrie would drive because Brad did not have his license, let alone a car. He also did not have a job. He managed to find the money for tennis shoes that cost $150 a pair, but he never offered to put gas in her car.

About a month before Brad's birthday, he asked to borrow $50 from Carrie. He said he'd pay her back when he received money for his birthday. Well, his birthday came and went, and he made no attempt to pay back the money. He avoided her when she went to his house to collect. Neither would he return her phone calls. I was very upset and told her so. After a month of this, Carrie got fed up and finally told Brad to keep the money -- he was not worth it!

I recently found out that she has been seeing Brad behind my back. When I asked her about it, she said she did not tell me because she knew I would be angry. I told her that since her father and I were paying for the car, Brad was not to ride in it, and I did not want him calling my house. I put a block on my phone so that his calls would not be received. When Carrie found out about this, she became quite upset. Now his family's phone has been disconnected and Brad goes to a friend's house to call her. Every time he calls, I block that number also.

I have talked to Carrie about having respect for herself and not allowing others to take advantage of her. I know that this is not my fight, but by accepting Brad's behavior, she is allowing him to think he can continue to do this to people. (I have heard through the grapevine that this is not the first time he has done it.)

How can I convince her that Brad is no good and she should have more respect for herself? -- FRUSTRATED MOM IN NEW ORLEANS

DEAR MOM: Carrie is almost an adult, and you are not going to teach her self-respect by blocking her telephone calls. All you have accomplished with this tactic is to make yourself the "enemy" and drive your daughter into the arms of the young man who victimized her in the first place.

I doubt the lines of communication will open very far if you continue trying to block them behind your daughter's back. Some lessons can be expensive, and Carrie may have to learn them for herself. I wish you both luck.

DEAR ABBY: My parents got divorced when I was 11 months old. My dad got married again, and he and his wife live in Pennsylvania and I live in New Hampshire.

I have called my stepmother "Auntie" since I was old enough to talk, and I am sick of it. I would like to call her by her first name like everybody else does. I asked my dad if it would be OK, and he said, "No. It is disrespectful for children to call adults by their first name." Abby, I don't want to call her "Auntie" anymore.

What should I do? Sign me ... CONFUSED 11-YEAR-OLD IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR CONFUSED: Your father is right. It is disrespectful for children to call adults by their first name unless the adult has asked the child to do so.

However, there might be a chance for you and your stepmother to become good pals. Tell her that you would like to call her by another name; perhaps the two of you can work on it together. I think she would be flattered to be taken into your confidence.

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