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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Lands in Hot Water After Son Spills the Beans

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are still at odds over something that happened months ago. He, his best friend and my 13-year-old son, "Mark," went to spring training in Florida. On one of the days, they went to lunch at a restaurant that features scantily clad waitresses. My husband told Mark not to tell me about it and to leave the telling to him.

When they returned home on Sunday after their three-day weekend, Mark let it slip where they had gone for lunch one day. I hit the roof!

Mark is a very young 13. I was furious that my husband took him to a place that Mark described as making him feel "uncomfortable" because of all the skin that was being shown. After I jumped on my husband for doing it, I heard him outside yelling at Mark for telling me before he had a chance to.

I'm being accused of overreacting, Abby. Am I? -- PROTECTIVE LIONESS IN ATLANTA

DEAR LIONESS: I don't think so. If your husband had been proud of what he had done, he wouldn't have asked Mark to keep it a secret. His request was both dishonest and sexist. It was an invitation to your son to join the "boy's club" and exclude you, and it makes me wonder what the next indiscretion your son would have been asked to cover up would have involved.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a normal 10-year-old girl, but when my mom gets mad, I get scared. She doesn't hit me, but I still feel panicked when she's mad.

My siblings have told me they're scared of her, too. I don't have anyone to turn to because my mom and dad are both only children.

Please tell me what to do. Should I wait until I'm older, or should I say something now? I'm confused and really scared of her. What should I do? -- SCARED IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR SCARED: Talk to your mother about your feelings now. You are reaching an age when you should be able to safely confide all of your concerns to her and be able to communicate without being afraid she will overreact. Because you and your siblings are all afraid, your mother may be expressing her frustration in a way that is not appropriate.

If the situation doesn't improve after you and your siblings talk to her, perhaps another adult can make her understand her behavior is counterproductive. Your dad, a close friend of hers, the mother of one of your friends, or a trusted teacher or school counselor may be able to help.

DEAR ABBY: What do I do about my aging mother who says whatever pops into her head as if she has no filter? Lately, she has been blurting out racial slurs. Abby, this is not the way we were raised.

Is my mother getting dementia? And when she does this in public, what do I say to the person she has just insulted? -- MAMA'S DAUGHTER

DEAR DAUGHTER: Your mother may have some form of dementia -- and you and the rest of the family should inform her doctor so that Mama can get a physical and neurological workup to find out why her behavior has changed so radically.

As to what to say to the people at whom she targets her racial slurs, simply say, "Please forgive my mother. She's had another lapse, and she's not herself."

Believe me, you have my sympathy.

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