DEAR ABBY: My son, "Jason," is a 17-year-old high school senior honor student. My wife and I have managed to establish a fairly open relationship with our children; we encourage honesty and have attempted to establish mutual respect.
Recently, Jason asked if he could have seven or eight friends over to drink. My wife, reasoning that if teenagers are going to indulge in alcohol, it's better for them to do it in a safe, controlled environment, said yes. I, on the other hand, said no, based on the fact that the parents of the other teens would not approve. Jason admitted that was, in fact, the case.
While I agree with my wife's reasoning, I refuse to allow my house to become the place where teens can gather to drink without their parents' knowledge. Jason is now upset with me, and I'm afraid he may no longer be willing to confide in me. In my heart, I know I made the right decision, but my relationship with my son means the world to me. What do you think? -- TORN IN HOUSTON
DEAR TORN: I agree. You did the right thing. You acted like a responsible parent. Not only would it have been illegal, but also, if any of your son's friends were to be injured after leaving the party drunk, the liability could have been yours.
That you asserted yourself will not ruin your relationship with your son forever. In time he will realize that your decision was the right one, and he will respect you for it. I know I do.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 50-year-old woman who is trying to figure out my relationship with my sister. "Jasmine" is five years older and has always been outspoken, bossy and insensitive. My role has always been to be the quiet, meek one.
As children, Jasmine was jealous of me. She dominated me and was sometimes physically abusive. As an adult, I have struggled to assert myself. Every time I think I'm making headway, Jasmine will do or say something to take me down a few notches, leaving me devastated yet again.
I am tired. I have reached the point of giving up on having any kind of meaningful relationship with my sister. I don't know what else to do. We do not live close to each other and communicate mostly via e-mail. I have not confronted her personally because when we're together it's usually a family function, and I don't want to drag the whole family into it or upset our mother. Any suggestions? -- JASMINE'S WHIPPING GIRL
DEAR WHIPPING GIRL: Thank your lucky stars that you are exposed to your sister only infrequently. Until you can bring yourself to respond firmly when your sister steps over the line, it appears you'll have to continue tolerating the pain.
My advice would be to speak your mind to Jasmine once and for all and let the chips fall where they may if she puts you down at a family gathering. It would hardly be considered "attacking her" if you said plainly that her comments are hurtful and offensive. It's the truth. And if she's doing this via the Internet, warn her once, and if she persists, then block her e-mails.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)