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

by Abigail Van Buren

Man's Perfect Pedigree Is Marred by Table Manners

DEAR ABBY: Lately, my aunt, "Brenda," has been overly strict with my cousin, "Emily." She won't let Emily talk on the phone, go to movies -- you get the idea. Once, because Emily lost the padlock for her gym locker, she was grounded for three weeks, lost her phone and computer privileges, and had to take all of her pictures out of her locker.

My family knows this is wrong, but everyone's afraid to say anything. Is there anything I can do to help Emily? -- CONCERNED COUSIN IN WISCONSIN

DEAR CONCERNED COUSIN: The punishment should fit the crime, and it appears that Emily's mother has gone way overboard. The problem with trying to keep a child a virtual prisoner is that most of them will rebel sooner or later. It would be a kindness if you would ask the other adults in your family to speak to your Aunt Brenda. She needs to learn more effective parenting techniques.