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Cell Phone Battleground Pits Mom Against Teens

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful man for two years. We both have daughters the same age, born the same year. They will be 17 next March.

My husband works all day and I stay home and take care of the kids. (I also have two other girls, both under 10.) My problem is the 16-year-olds sneak around and do things behind my back when they are told they cannot do them.

One big issue is that although my ex has custody of my daughter, she stays with me because she cannot be trusted alone at his house. My husband and I bought the older girls cell phones to keep tabs on them when they are not at home. But the cell phones have caused so much arguing in the house that it's unreal.

Both girls have been told they cannot talk after midnight, but every time I get the bill, there are calls after midnight. I'm talking about 1 a.m., 2 a.m. -- even 4 a.m. They say I am wrong not to let them talk after 12 because they are adults, I am a mean mother, and I just want to prevent them from having a life. Now my daughter is saying that as soon as she's 17, she is moving out because she cannot stand it here. What should I do? -- STRESSED MOTHER IN MICHIGAN

DEAR STRESSED MOTHER: Confiscate the cell phones at bedtime. Your daughter may be 16, but she's acting like a 10-year-old. The person who pays for the cell phone makes the rules. It's up to you to enforce them.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 13-year-old girl in the eighth grade. I get treated like a slut every day. Boys keep coming up to me asking me to have sex with them and be their little slave girl. I say no, but they won't stop!

About five months ago I almost committed suicide. I try to ignore them, really I do. Abby, could you please help me? Please! -- NOT A SLUT IN S. CAROLINA

DEAR NOT: There's a name what these boys are doing -- it's called sexual harassment. It is very important that you tell a teacher what has been going on, because by law, the school administration can -- and must -- put a stop to it.

These boys think they are being sophisticated, clever and funny when in reality they are none of the above. They need to be punished. And you, my dear, may need professional counseling to get over the trauma and depression their foolishness has caused.

Please clip this and show it to your parents and the teacher you confide in. Your problem is serious and needs to be dealt with immediately.

DEAR ABBY: I have lost three friends, and I'm hoping you can tell me where I went wrong. If this had happened just once, I would suspect that I was overly sensitive. But three times?

These three friends are now widows. When they lost their husbands, my husband and I sent condolences, attended the funerals and attempted to be supportive. Since losing their husbands, Friend No. 1 has been exceptionally cool, Friend No. 2 left me abruptly in the middle of a sentence, and Friend No. 3 snipes at me at what seems every opportunity. What is wrong? -- PUZZLED IN WISCONSIN

DEAR PUZZLED: Your friends may simply be grieving, or they may be envious that you still have your husband. Or each could have a different reason. I don't know these women.

Frankly, your letter is unusual, given the fact that more often I hear from widows who tell me they are sad because the couples with whom they used to socialize have now "dropped" THEM.

Make another attempt to include these friends in a social outing or invite each over for a home-cooked meal. If they refuse -- or accept, yet still seem cool or unfriendly -- then leave them alone, and rest assured that you made the effort to reach out to them.

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