DEAR ABBY: When my three sons were small, I used to kiss them on the lips as a sign of affection. Now they are 13, 11 and 8, and it has been several years since I have done it. With the youngest, I can still get away with an occasional peck on the cheek -- but not my older boys.
My family roots are Scandinavian. Growing up, I used to hate that we rarely showed our emotions. I vowed to be different, but now I'm afraid I have fallen into the same nondemonstrative pattern.
As a single dad who tries hard to lead by example, how do I reintroduce this healthy demonstration of love? -- DEMONSTRATIVE DAD, LAGUNA, CALIF.
DEAR DAD: Your older boys may be less affectionate because they're a teenager and a pre-teen and concerned that kissing you would appear unmasculine or childish. It's possible that when they're older they will realize the importance of expressing warm emotions as you did.
Talk to your sons. Tell them you miss the demonstrations of affection and that while growing up you felt your family had missed out on something important. Many families are extremely affectionate, and in many cultures demonstrations of affection between males is the norm.
DEAR ABBY: I'm an active senior citizen, very involved in my community. Because I understand how important it is to stay technologically up-to-date and not be buried in "the way it was," I use a cell phone and am somewhat computer literate. But I have reached my limit of patience with the extreme dependence on cell phones on the part of my family as well as others.
It's increasingly hard to have a simple visit or dinner without constant interruption, to the point of rudeness. What has happened to us that we can't spend time together without injecting an "Oops! Need to take this call ..."
Abby, how about making a helpful list of courtesy rules to share with your readers? -- GRANDMA JOY IN RICHLAND, MISS.
DEAR GRANDMA JOY: There is really just one "rule," and it's longstanding: When carrying on a conversation -- or sharing a meal -- give your companion your undivided attention. Taking a phone call and allowing yourself to be interrupted sends a message that the person you are with is less important than the caller.
The only exceptions to this I can think of would be an emergency call from a family member, baby-sitter or employer -- or if the person being called was a doctor. Or bail bondsman.
DEAR ABBY: My extended family has frequent birthday parties, usually on Sundays. My sister-in-law recently changed jobs so she is no longer able to attend. She sends empty containers along with my brother so he can take home leftovers for her.
If we go out to a restaurant, she has him order a meal to take home. (Our mother picks up the bill.)
Personally, I think what my sister-in-law is doing is rude. Is this something new? -- LAURIE IN MINNEAPOLIS
DEAR LAURIE: It is not unusual for family members to take leftovers home from a house party if someone can't attend. But to expect a host to pay for a takeout dinner from a restaurant for a guest who did not attend is, in my opinion, presumptuous.
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.)