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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother's Illness Strains Relationship With Teen

DEAR ABBY: I am 15 and have been going out with my boyfriend for 13 months. He is my best friend. His mom is sick and always on some sort of drug, but she takes all of her pain out on him. She refuses to listen to anything he has to say, and cuts him off with, "No! You are wrong!" I have even heard her claim that she hates him. She refuses to listen to reason. His dad just says, "Listen to your mom; she is sick."

I think he is becoming depressed when he is at home. Outside of the house he is cheerful, but inside he is neglected, ignored and yelled at.

Are there any other methods of getting her to listen to him that don't involve talking or letter-writing? -- CONCERNED IN WEST CHESTER, PA.

DEAR CONCERNED: The teen-age years can be difficult in the best of circumstances. No one should have to navigate them feeling alienated and alone.

Since your boyfriend's mother is physically or mentally ill, and unable to relate lovingly, calmly or rationally to her son -- and his father is unable to intercede for him -- suggest he consider finding another adult in whom he can confide. Eligible candidates might be a trusted aunt or uncle, a grandparent, a teacher or counselor at school, or his clergyperson.

DEAR ABBY: May I respond to "Had It in Houston," who was tired of the neighbor child hanging out at their house all day, every day?

I was that uninvited child until I reached the age of 15. I was sent home at dinnertime or when friends had to do their homework. I felt like an outcast.

When I was 15, my family moved to a different community and I made a new friend, Kelly. To this day she remains my closest friend. I was welcomed at her house. Her parents didn't send me home. They included me and made me feel important. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I felt wanted.

Twenty-five years later, Kelly, her sister and her parents are still a part of my family. I love them all and would like to take this opportunity to say thank you.

My message to "Had It" is simple: Please don't turn your neighbor child away. Children need to feel wanted -- to know that someone is there for them. You have been chosen by this child. Appreciate the honor. -- SHERRI IN CINCINNATI

DEAR SHERRI: Your letter is one that will be appreciated by many latchkey (and former latchkey) children. Single parents -- and many couples -- must work in order to make ends meet. Although we may wish it weren't the case, sometimes it does "take a village" to raise a child. One can only hope that the citizens of the village are willing and able when the need arises.

DEAR ABBY: When it is said that after Labor Day you shouldn't wear white, I was always under the impression that this pertains only to purses and shoes or sandals. Is it acceptable to still wear white slacks, pants or capri pants? -- CARLA IN WINDHAM, OHIO

DEAR CARLA: The old "rules of dress" have been relaxed to the point that they have nearly disappeared in the last 20 years. At this point, it's often a matter of common sense.

If the weather is still warm and summery, I see no harm in wearing summer-weight -- and summer-colored -- clothes until it turns cool. At that point, heavier fabrics are practical, and an off-white ("winter white") is acceptable.

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