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

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I were visiting our children and grandson, "Rhett," age 24. Rhett is a college student who lives at home. He had his girlfriend, "Peggy," who lives in another town, at the house for the weekend.

Rhett and Peggy retired to his room early in the evening. When we saw them at breakfast, they were, basically, uncommunicative. Shortly after, they went to the backyard and immediately climbed into the hammock, where they lay like tightly wound dishrags for the next two hours until it was time for us to leave. Our son and his wife did not awaken them to say goodbye, so we concluded that they had been exhausted by the previous night's activities.

Is this normal behavior in today's world? We realize that we may be "old fogeys" by current standards, but isn't there any line drawn anymore? My son and his wife acted like this was all perfectly fine. -- INVISIBLE GRANDPA IN ARKANSAS

DEAR GRANDPA: Whether Rhett's behavior -- and his parents' tolerance of it -- is "fine" in today's world depends upon the standards in that household. However, there are "family manners" and "company manners." From your description of the goings-on during your visit, and that no effort was made to spend any quality time with you, I'd say your grandson's behavior was just plain rude.

That said, Rhett was not entirely to blame. Some fault lies with your son and his wife for tolerating your being ignored and not insisting that you be treated with more courtesy and respect.

DEAR ABBY: My brother, "Jeff," has not communicated with any of the family -- parents or siblings -- for two years. Nobody knows why. We grew up a close-knit family with lots of love and affection.

About six years ago, Jeff moved with his wife and children to a different state. During the first few years, he stayed in touch via phone calls and e-mails, but suddenly all communication ceased. We know where he lives and have tried contacting him through letters, phone calls and e-mails, but he will not respond. Our parents are devastated and none of us knows what to do.

We have so many questions: Is Jeff hiding something? Is he ill? How are the children? What do we do, Abby? Please help. -- FAMILY IN PAIN

DEAR IN PAIN: Because you have tried everything else, only one thing is left. If at all possible, your parents and the sibling who was closest to Jeff should schedule a visit to the city in which he now resides and pay him a call.

DEAR ABBY: I married a man who owns a duplex with his mother. When the taxes come due there are two sets -- one for each side. The house is not habitable. It needs a lot of work to get it ready.

My mother-in-law thinks her son should pay the taxes on both sides, and also pay to fix up the place. Now that he has a wife, his mother thinks I should help him pay for the house and the taxes. But the deed is "survivorship" with him and his mother. Why should I pay to get it fixed up when his mom makes it clear that if something happens to her son, the house is hers and hers alone? -- TAKEN FOR GRANTED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR TAKEN FOR GRANTED: Beats me! I wouldn't do it, and neither should you.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)