DEAR ABBY: My mother was unloving and downright cruel to all of her children, but now that we're all over 18, she has suddenly decided she wants to have relationships with us. (I haven't even told her that I've been engaged for two months.) She has caused so much suffering and heartache, but I don't know how to tell her to leave me alone.
She recently showed up at my house. I don't know how she got my address, because I didn't give it to her and I never return her calls. I don't understand how she can act like everything is fine between us and get angry with me for not calling her back.
Mother has never in her life said the word "sorry." I am at a loss as to how to deal with her. -- ANGRY AND CONFUSED IN PHOENIX
DEAR ANGRY: I have heard from readers who cut themselves off from their parents after abusive childhoods and later regretted that there was no closure. I have also heard from people who did it and have no regrets about it at all.
If you feel that any aspect of your relationship with her is salvageable, consider trying to heal the relationship. However, if that is not possible, tell her plainly that you want to be left alone, and if she doesn't cooperate, you will be forced to get a restraining order. Then do it.
DEAR ABBY: My niece, "Debra," had her breasts enlarged before she was even 20, and she dresses to draw attention to them. She's so proud that she pushes them out even further, which makes her posture appear abnormal.
We are modest people, and we felt especially uncomfortable last summer at a family beach party where she pranced around in a thong!
Now we have a messy situation. Debra has accused a male family member of behaving inappropriately toward her. He denies ever thinking "that way" about her, but admits he couldn't help looking at her breasts "because they were on display all the time."
My sister, Debra's mother, refuses to accept that her daughter is in any way responsible for this mess, and says the man involved is completely at fault. I blame Debra.
Is it fair for a girl to dress seductively and then accuse a male family member of behaving inappropriately? -- MODEST IN COLORADO
DEAR MODEST: Let's stop assigning blame and assess what's really happening. For years, Debra probably felt something was lacking. Since she has had her enhancement surgery, it appears she has been overcompensating. The episode with the thong bikini at the family beach party is an example of a girl who once felt invisible and is now flaunting her assets.
However, when someone prominently puts something on display, it's unrealistic to expect viewers to wear blinders or look away. Debra can't have it both ways.
DEAR ABBY: My neighbor runs a licensed day-care center in her home. She does a good job and has lots of children in her care. Some of the children are the same ages as my kids, and they often spend an afternoon or a whole day playing at my house. Should I be concerned about being responsible for her "clients" when she is paid to take care of them? Is there a liability issue that I need to confront? It's an awkward situation for me, and I'd like to hear your thoughts. -- LIABLE IN SYRACUSE
DEAR LIABLE: To heck with my "thoughts." Contact your insurance agent TODAY. If a child is injured on your property, there is definitely a liability issue!
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