DEAR ABBY: From the time that my father left -- I was 8 -- until I was thrown out of the house at 16, my mother was seriously emotionally abusive and neglectful. She frequently called me filthy names, made bizarre accusations that had no basis in truth, told me I was a "mistake," threatened me, publicly humiliated and belittled me.
I am now in my mid-20s and have had no contact with my mother for three years. My older brother is in denial about the abuse and insists that I forgive her and rebuild our relationship. He claims that she's sorry and she misses me.
I recently traveled back to my hometown and visited my mother. She treated me as though I were a stranger. Afterward, I felt that I could move on, knowing I had done the right thing in deciding to cut her out of my life. Now the rest of the family has turned their backs on me. I would like to maintain a personal relationship with them, but they think I'm a bad person for no longer having a relationship with my mother. Do you have any advice? -- LEFT IN THE COLD IN DULUTH
DEAR LEFT IN THE COLD: Only this: If the price of having a relationship with your family is tolerating their emotional blackmail and more abuse from your mother, the price is too high.
DEAR ABBY: Not long ago, we moved into a beautiful new housing development. Neighbors on the street behind us keep their puppy penned up outside day and night in all kinds of weather. Occasionally we see one of their neighbors walk the dog, but other than that, it seems the dog's existence is limited to a cement pad covered in you-know-what.
We would rather not call the homeowners' association or the Humane Society, as these neighbors seem like decent people. However, it is upsetting our small children, as well as my husband and me, to hear the poor animal cry. We can't imagine spending the next 10 years like this. What do you recommend we do? -- CANINE LOVERS IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CANINE LOVERS: Although you would rather not, for the puppy's sake, pick up the phone and contact the homeowners' association and the Humane Society. You'll be doing the neglected creature -- and yourselves -- a favor. The owners of that poor animal have no idea how to properly care for a dog. The Humane Society will instruct them on the proper care of their furry family member.
DEAR ABBY: My 2-year-old is in a private home day care. Occasionally he makes a mess on the carpet or breaks a toy. When it happens, the day-care provider is quick to point out the price of the cleaning or replacement, and I usually offer her $20 in compensation. However, she expects me to pay at least half for my child's accidents.
Since this is a private home, is it appropriate to assume I'll pay for these incidents on top of the weekly fee? -- IN NEED OF DAY-CARE ETIQUETTE
DEAR IN NEED: The fees you pay the day-care provider should cover the cost of the toys -- they are a part of her cost of doing business. It is interesting that your day-care provider has her charges playing on her carpets, and not in an area that is easier to keep clean and sanitized. Is this person a licensed and insured day-care provider? If she is not, it's time to give some serious consideration to what might happen if your child were injured on her property. Readers, what do you think of this?
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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600