DEAR ABBY: My 1-year-old son and I spent the weekend at my parents' house. We had a wonderful time. Mom and Dad showered us with love and attention. It was like being at a resort even though their house is small. The size didn't matter until, at 4:30 a.m. through paper-thin walls, I was awakened by my parents making love.
Unfortunately, this was a familiar sound from my childhood. I didn't know how to handle it when I was growing up, and it appears, at 34, I still don't know what to say. I'm glad my parents still enjoy each other. My mother is sweet but becomes very defensive when confronted, and my dad is painfully shy. Should I talk to them about this, or just make arrangements to stay elsewhere the next time I visit? -- I CAN HEAR YOU IN MICHIGAN
DEAR I CAN HEAR YOU: The next time you plan to visit, make reservations at a nearby hotel. If you are asked why, just say that you are all adults and you all need your privacy. It's a tactful way to deliver the message without being "confrontational."
DEAR ABBY: Back in 1961 some neighborhood kids were showing off their "battle scars." The three children (who lived across the street) were certain they deserved a beating, but were clueless about why. It kept happening. The practice of keeping secrets was common back then, but I knew the beatings were wrong.
Decades later, I was visiting the now-grown daughter and her mother when the subject turned to child abuse. The mom turned to her daughter and commented, "You probably don't remember because you were only 6, but your dad used to get drunk and beat up you and your younger brothers. A neighbor found out, so your dad stopped drinking."
Abby, I was that neighbor. I was only 7 at the time, but I had read the Dear Abby column, which appeared on the comics page. My solution was to hang on that family's front door your mom's column saying that child abuse required the law's intervention. To the father's credit, the anonymous threat of losing his toddlers got him to stop.
That column was a lifesaver, and I thought you'd like to know. -- FRAN IN HONOKA'A, HAWAII
DEAR FRAN: You may have been young, but you certainly were precocious and proactive. I hope you realize that what you did not only saved the family, but also may have saved some lives.
P.S. And I'm sure the daughter did remember.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I disagree about giving alcohol as a holiday gift at a company party. He says it's always an acceptable gift, because even if people don't drink they can share it with future guests.
I think many people would be dismayed to receive alcohol. What do you think? -- SUSAN IN SOUTHERN OREGON
DEAR SUSAN: I agree with your boyfriend. The only time that alcohol would be an inappropriate gift is when the giver knows the recipient doesn't use it. If the person is "dismayed," it can always be regifted.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: The eight days of Hanukkah begin at sundown. (I cannot believe how early it has fallen this year.) Happy Hanukkah, everyone. A joyous Festival of Lights to all of you!
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds)
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