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by Abigail Van Buren

Curfew Comes Too Early for Teen Eager to Go Out

DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old girl about to start my sophomore year in high school. I play sports, help out with chores around the house, and tend to my little sisters after school until Mom gets home from work.

I've always tried to live up to everyone else's expectations of me, because I don't want to let anyone down.

I now want to start dating and hanging out with school friends and go to parties. I don't intend to be wild. I just want to have some fun every now and then.

The problem is my mom is strict about my curfew –- 11 o'clock. I have asked for midnight, but she thinks that's too late for me to be out. I have friends younger than me who have midnight curfews.

Mom tells me she doesn't want me to make the same mistakes she made. But how will I learn about life if I can't experience things for myself? I'm smarter than she realizes. I know right from wrong. I think I'm old enough to find out who I am. Abby, do you think I'm asking too much? -- WANTING TO GROW UP IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR WANTING: Whether you're asking too much depends on the kind of dates you have in mind. If you're going out with groups of friends -– and it's supervised -– 11 o'clock is fine for a 15-year-old. If you continue to be as responsible as you are, renegotiate the curfew when you turn 16.

DEAR ABBY: Before our wedding, my mother-in-law offered to purchase a set of sterling silver flatware for her son and me as our gift. She instructed us to register the pattern we selected and said she'd buy the set.

Two weeks prior to our wedding, my in-laws came to visit and brought our wedding gift with them. Imagine my shock when I opened the box and found a totally different set than the one we had chosen!

Without thinking, I said, "Oh, this isn't the silver we picked!" My mother-in-law replied that her selection was better.

I want to exchange the set for the one my fiance and I wanted in the first place. My husband says to drop the subject, unless I want his mom to comment about it every time we sit down for a meal together.

This has become a bone of contention between my new husband and me. Does his mom have the right to wield that kind of control over us, Abby? What should I do? -- MAD AT HIS MOM IN SOUTH DAKOTA

DEAR MAD: Your mother-in-law has the right to wield that kind of control only if her son and you allow her to. What she did may have been well-intended, but it came across as insensitive and heavy-handed.

It's time for you and your husband to have a talk with his mother and tell her that while you appreciate her gift, you chose the pattern you selected for a reason. You both liked it. And while she may prefer the pattern she selected, she is not the person who is going to have to live with it. Therefore the silver is being exchanged for the one you prefer.

Once you put the subject on the table, it's less likely to be rehashed at subsequent family gatherings than if she arrives for a dinner party and is "surprised." Your brand-new hubby owes it to you to back you up on this, and you can tell him I said so.

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 $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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