Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Cruel Words Aimed at Kids Cut Deep and Heal Slow

DEAR ABBY: It was easy for me to rewrite "Words of Love?" by Danny Comstock, in order to describe what many young people hear when they're growing up. I speak from experience. Please print it so other unhappy kids out there will know they're not alone. Please do not identify me, Abby. Just sign me ... SURVIVOR IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SURVIVOR: Verbal abuse is toxic and cumulative. The scars left by ugly words can take far longer to heal than those from physical abuse. The victims may become successful adults, but underneath, the wounds remain. Read on:


You're neurotic! You're immature!

You're skinny! You're ugly!

You're nothing but a slob!

Do your schoolwork! Clean your room!

Clean the house! Take care of the baby!

Can't you do anything right?

You don't have any skills!

You will never get a job!

You're lazy! You're selfish! You're spoiled!

No wonder you don't have any friends!

You embarrass me, but I'm willing to put up with you --

Because no one else will tolerate you!

You need me to take care of you --

You wouldn't last two seconds on your own!

The only reason I berate and criticize you

Is because I'm trying to build your character

And make you a better person!

If I didn't, I wouldn't love you!

DEAR ABBY: I will be starting high school in September. I am nervous about going to a new environment. Middle school wasn't bad because I knew most of the kids from elementary school. High school is different. Students from all over the city will be attending.

Some of my best friends will be going to different high schools. I'm not very outgoing, and I'm having a hard time figuring who to hang out with. Abby, I need your advice on how to adjust to my first days in high school. -- FRESHMAN IN DALLAS

DEAR FRESHMAN: This is an opportunity to meet new people and a chance to expand your circle of friends. If you see someone who is shy or hanging back, realize that the person is probably experiencing the same feeling you are, so reach out.

Get together with your old friends on the weekends. You'll have a lot to share and talk about.

DEAR ABBY: I am pregnant with my second son. My first is 4 1/2, and I have saved everything of his. A friend of the family wants to host a baby shower. My husband and I think it is greedy to have another shower when we already have everything we need. Abby, what is the proper etiquette, if any? -- SON SET IN OREGON

DEAR SON SET: A baby shower is a celebration of a new life to come. Participating in a baby shower for your second child isn't greedy.

However, if accepting gifts you don't really need makes you feel guilty, have your friend announce a charity shower and make it clear that the gifts you receive will be donated to a women's shelter, a church or some similar organization. Alternatively, you could donate the items you saved from your first son to a family or young mother who needs them.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600