DEAR ABBY: My cousin is the single mother of a 9-year-old boy, "Kenneth." He is an only child.
Kenneth has never slept in his own room. After his father left, my cousin used this as her excuse to let him sleep with her. He doesn't want to be alone and is afraid his mother will leave him, too, so that's the excuse she uses to justify allowing him to sleep with her.
Abby, his father left four years ago!
I spoke to my cousin about this, and she said, "It's no big deal; plenty of people do it." The truth of the matter is that she doesn't have the patience to listen to him scream and cry all night if she tries to make him sleep in his own room. It's obvious to the family that Kenneth is in charge of their household.
I'm afraid this boy will have serious problems due to the sleeping arrangements. I'm also worried that a state agency will get wind of this strange situation and investigate my cousin.
Do you agree that this boy will become maladjusted? Perhaps if she sees it in your column, she'll wise up. -- NAMELESS
DEAR NAMELESS: Kenneth should not be sleeping in the same bed with his mother. If your cousin doesn't know how abnormal this situation is, she should be told in no uncertain terms that she's doing her son a terrible disservice with this sleeping arrangement.
Further, at age 9, Kenneth is too old to be "screaming and crying all night" when he's left alone. The boy needs counseling to overcome his fears of abandonment.
DEAR ABBY: As a state trooper, I would like to comment on your advice that drivers pull over before using their cellular phones. While it is dangerous to drive while using the phone, it can be equally dangerous to just "pull over" while on the highway.
Many vehicles stop in the breakdown lane for this purpose without realizing that the most serious accidents take place when there is a large variance in the speeds of the objects colliding. This occurs most frequently when a stationary car or person is only inches away from traffic traveling in excess of 60 to 70 mph. It takes only a moment's inattention for a tragedy to occur. Many fatal accidents are the result of a truck or car straying only slightly over the white line near a stopped vehicle.
Because of this danger, our state and many others prohibit the use of the breakdown lane unless there is a mechanical or medical emergency.
Abby, please urge your readers to use caution when pulling over. Look for a safe place to stop well away from the flow of traffic such as rest areas or parking lots, and of course, ALWAYS wear seat belts.
Thank you for all your good work on behalf of police officers everywhere. -- TROOPER STEVE EARLE, MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE
DEAR TROOPER EARLE: Your advice to stop well away from high-speed traffic is a safety tip that could save the lives of many. Thank you for it, and for the reminder that a moment's distraction can occur during a long highway journey even with the safest of drivers. It is absolutely vital that motorists stay fully alert at all times.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600