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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced when I was 2 years old, and remarried soon afterward. Unfortunately, the man my mother married was an abusive alcoholic whose beatings eventually contributed to her death in 1981. My father had remained on good terms with my mother throughout the years, and he and my stepmother attended the funeral.

After the funeral service, my stepmother said to me, "I insist that you thank your stepfather for putting up with your mother all those years. You should spend the rest of the afternoon with him and his family."

Not wishing to cause a scene, I did what she ordered. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Abby, no one deserved the punishment my stepfather inflicted on my mother. My stepmother knew exactly what he had done to my mother and to me, too. How could she make such a demand?

After all these years, at 42, I am still troubled by my stepmother's demand, and the fact that I actually obeyed! What can I do to get over this? -- STILL TROUBLED AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, ROCKLAND, DEL.

DEAR STILL TROUBLED: Your stepmother's comments were outrageous. She may have hated and resented your mother, and felt she had gotten what she deserved. And, like many victims of abuse, your self-esteem was so low you obeyed her without question.

Counseling can help you work through the feelings you're experiencing. Since you're still troubled, I hope you won't wait any longer.

DEAR ABBY: This is in reference to the letter from the 23-year-old manager of a suburban fast-food restaurant and the teens who were bound and left after a robbery. I want to address the fact that the parents of these teens never came to find out why they were out all night. As a parent of a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old (and for 10 months, a 17-year-old foreign exchange student), I have an explanation for the apparent lack of concern from the parents. Exhaustion!

Our 17-year-old had curfew hours on the weekend, which her mother and I set. Our student would be home exactly on time or call us if there was a problem. At first, I stayed up to make sure she got home -- but after arising for work at 5 a.m. every day, I was too exhausted to be efficient. I shared this problem with other parents of teen-agers. Here's how I solved it:

I set an alarm for the time the child should be home. If the child gets home before the alarm goes off, he or she turns off the alarm and goes to bed. If the child does not arrive home in time, the alarm goes off and wakes the parent. Parents get their sleep -- and the teens get to keep the hours they desperately want. -- ANGIE IN L.A.

DEAR ANGIE: I received a stack of mail from defensive parents of teens about my reply to that letter, for saying that the parents of those young girls weren't doing an adequate job. Many said that their teen-agers ignore their attempts at discipline and refuse to accept their authority or curfews. Others said they were unable to wait up for their children and still function the next day.

For households where there is mutual respect and order, your solution is ingenious. I only wish I had stock in an alarm clock company.

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