DEAR ABBY: Until I was 13, my 8-year-old brother and I lived with our mom, but she was so mean that Dad took us to live with him and "Heather." Heather is good to us. She never yells at us or tells us we're no good. And we never have to eat cereal for dinner like we did when we were with Mom, who sometimes didn't come home for days.
One night I heard Dad tell Heather he thought Mom was on drugs and doing bad things to get money. I know she was taking a lot of pills and drinking.
It was better living with Dad, but we missed Mom, so after a couple of months, Dad let us visit Mom overnight. But Mom started two lawsuits against Dad. She wanted him to pay her child support even though we weren't living with her.
She went to court, but she lost. The judge said she must be tested for drugs and see a counselor before she could have us overnight again. Mom took the tests and got into a program, but after a couple of months she stopped doing what the judge said. She calls us sometimes but won't tell us where she lives or where she works. She blames us for not visiting her. I always cry after she calls.
I also cry because I'm afraid she'll take a drug overdose and die. I don't tell Dad and Heather anymore because I tried to talk to them and they told me Mom is sick.
I want to forget my mom, but I can't. What can I do to stop crying every night? -- SAD AND SCARED DAUGHTER IN N.Y.
DEAR SAD AND SCARED: Talk to your father and Heather again. Tell them how you're feeling. From your description of your mother, she does appear to be ill and out of touch with reality. When people have heartaches like yours, the surest way to resolve them is to share them.
You cannot "save" your mom; only she can do that. And for your own sake, you must not allow her to make you feel guilty. Sometimes when a situation is out of our control, it has to be left to a higher power. Keep busy with constructive things -- sports, extracurricular activities, volunteering your time. It will give you less time to worry. However, if crying in your pillow continues, I urge you to talk to your dad about some professional counseling for yourself.
DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about something I have seen happen more and more over the last several years. It's the behavior of young people at funerals.
Respect for the deceased and for those who are genuinely mourning demands that parents caution their children to restrain their natural impulses at funerals or the graveside. This means not running up and down the aisles, no loud talking or laughing, or (as on one memorable occasion), no groping of one's girlfriend or boyfriend. That kind of behavior is never forgotten by mourners and can sometimes result in permanent distaste for the misbehaving child.
Please remind your readers that funerals are highly emotional events, and people should be on their best behavior for the sake of good taste and the feelings of others. -- SADDENED AND OFFENDED IN S.F.
DEAR SADDENED: I'm printing your reminder, but don't blame the children. Blame the parents who allow the misbehavior and disrespect, and who don't care enough for the feelings of those around them to intervene.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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