DEAR ABBY: I would like to encourage all parents of daughters to teach their girls how to say "no" clearly and with grace.
My teenage son asked a girl to the homecoming dance recently. She said, "Oh, I'll have to think about it. I don't know whether I want to go or not." She may have thought she was sparing my son's feelings, but it left him in limbo. He figures she doesn't want to go, which is OK, but he can't ask anyone else because she hasn't said yes or no.
My son's question should have been answered with, "Yes," or "No, thank you," or "I'll have to check. I'll let you know by Monday."
Abby, learning to say no is an important skill all women should have throughout their lives. It's imperative to know that if we mean "no" we shouldn't say "maybe." Likewise, hearing a "no" is something young men need to learn how to deal with as well.
Being able to say no to a boy who asks for a date may seem small, but it may make saying no later to something major that much easier. -- NICELY NEGATIVE IN BURLINGTON, N.J.
DEAR NICELY NEGATIVE: Amen! Learning to say no clearly and concisely is, indeed, an important skill for young women to have. It is the inability to be direct that sometimes gets them into serious trouble, and it is in school that young people develop their social skills.
If a girl is so eager to please that she doesn't know how to say, "Don't call me" or, "Thank you, but I'm not interested," then how is she going to learn to say, "Do not touch me in that way"?
DEAR ABBY: I turned 21 two months ago. I'm not usually one to get all excited about my "special day," but my boyfriend, "Skip," insisted on making a big deal out of it.
When the day arrived, we agreed to use a gift certificate my brother had given us to use as a "thank you" for something else. I didn't mind. But when the waiter brought the check for the remainder of the cost of the dinner, Skip "realized" he had "forgotten" his wallet, so I had to pay.
When we got home, Skip said he was going to pick up a friend to join us for cake. After two hours waiting for him to return, I finally called him to come back. To top it off, he didn't even give me a birthday card because he is saving up to buy a car.
I know birthdays aren't about material things, but about being around people you love. But Skip built up my expectations then totally shot me down. Am I wrong for still feeling hurt? -- DEPRESSED IN ALTADENA, CALIF.
DEAR DEPRESSED: No. Now that you are older, it's time for you to become wiser. Your boyfriend is stingy, selfish and insensitive. He did, however, give you a priceless, intangible birthday gift -- a glimpse into what your future will be like if you continue the relationship.
Be smart and read the handwriting on the wall. It's telling you to skip Skip and jump back into the dating pool.
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 $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)