DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughters like to decorate their room with lots of posters and whatnots. The girls hang them using thumbtacks and constantly rearrange them. As a result, their walls are full of tiny holes. I don't mind their hanging one or two posters, but the number they hang (and move from place to place) is destructive and shows little respect for our home.
My wife disagrees. She is right when she says we can repair the walls when the girls are older, but I feel we are not teaching them discipline by allowing them to be so destructive. My wife is angry that I won't let this go.
Abby, if the girls refuse to respect my decision on the number of posters they can hang in their room, it makes it difficult for me to respect their decisions. Should I just shut up and allow them to hang and move their posters as they please? -- TICKED OFF IN LOUISIANA
DEAR TICKED OFF: Posters are important to young people. These "interior design statements" are part of growing up. It has nothing to do with a lack of respect for you.
Look at it this way: The holes in the wall can be easily repaired when the girls outgrow this phase -- as they will eventually. It's harder to "repair" an overly strict relationship. Loosen up, Dad, and don't sweat the small stuff.
DEAR ABBY: About two years ago, I received a letter from a woman incarcerated in a California state prison. To make a long story short, I ended up sending her stationery, envelopes, stamps and many money orders -- one for more than $600.
She told me she had no family and needed a place to live after she was paroled. Well, I took the bait, hook, line and sinker, and "helped" her for more than 18 months.
I'm 43 years old and thought I had finally found my future mate. Her letters seemed sweet and sincere. I felt sorry for her. She even sent me a document that looked genuine showing her "release date."
All of it was a lie. I'm sick to my stomach, not only because of the amount of money I sent her, but because I was hurt by someone I thought I could trust.
A few months ago I received the same story in a letter from a woman inmate in a Texas prison. Do you think these prisoners are passing my name around? Also, is there any way I can get my money back? -- FEELING USED IN UTAH
DEAR FEELING USED: Write the wardens at both prisons, giving the names of the women who have contacted you. Prison officials should be aware that some inmates are committing still more crimes via the U.S. mail. As for the money you lost, you have learned an expensive lesson; consider it tuition in the school of experience.
DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I had an affair with a handsome, intelligent man who turned out to be too good to be true. I discovered he had fabricated most of the information he gave me about himself, including his marital status and name.
I gave birth to his son out of wedlock. This man supports our child financially, but does not see him. This is his choice, not mine.
Abby, my question is this: Does my precious little boy deserve to go through life as a secret to his father's entire family, or do his grandparents on his father's side deserve to know of their grandchild?
My feeling is that if I were a grandparent in the autumn of my life, I would want to know this child, see him and love him. Please ask your readers to respond. Thank you for any insights. -- PROUD MOM
DEAR PROUD MOM: Instinct tells me I will get strong opinions on both sides of this important question. Readers?
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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