DEAR ABBY: My parents told me that a member of their congregation carries a licensed gun when he's in church. He is not a law enforcement officer or a private security guard, but keeps the gun on him "for protection." When I asked what the pastor has to say about this, I was told, "He doesn't know or can't do anything about it."
I suggested that Mom and Dad speak to the congregation board of directors because they are legally and financially responsible for the church. They refused even though they are not happy about this gun issue.
My parents have a long history of complaining about things but doing nothing to resolve them. I feel that if someone needs to carry a gun at all times, I don't want to be in his presence. If he's the target of an assassination, the killer might shoot the wrong person. I will not set foot in the church as long as that man is there.
I'm not sure what bothers me more -- that this man is packing heat or that my parents have valid concerns and won't speak out. What do you think? -- GUN-SHY IN N.Y.C.
DEAR GUN-SHY: If the man has a license to carry the gun, then he is breaking no laws. You are certainly within your rights to refrain from being in his presence. If your parents were really concerned about their safety, they would either talk to the pastor or go somewhere else to worship. Because they have done neither, I think you should let it go.
DEAR ABBY: I am the oldest of three. Our mother was verbally and physically abusive while we were growing up. I now suspect she suffered from bipolar disorder, but back then no one had any idea what it was or how to treat it.
Her behavior drove our father away, leaving her to manage finances on her own. She made a miserable mess of it and, at 70, is still working so she can support herself. She wants to retire, but has almost nothing in savings. Because of the way she treated us, none of us wants much to do with her, and we are in no position to support her after she retires.
The problem, Abby, is that she has started laying an enormous guilt trip on my 22-year-old daughter and wants her to take her in. I caught wind of it and stepped in. There is no way my daughter should be burdened caring for her grandmother for the next 20 years. I feel bad that she has nowhere to go, but I feel she's reaping what she has sown. Am I wrong? -- GUILT TRIPPIN' IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR GUILT TRIPPIN': No. But has your mother ever been diagnosed as bipolar? Is she on medications now that help her to control her behavior? If the answer is yes and she has tried to make amends, then perhaps you should try to be more forgiving and forthcoming. If the answer is no, then taking her in would be a disaster.
DEAR ABBY: My husband thinks it's hilarious to sneak up and scare the daylights out of me. I have told him repeatedly that I don't think it's funny and it triggers anxiety attacks, but he won't listen. I enjoy his playful personality, but the startling has to stop. Any suggestions? -- NOT LAUGHING IN GREENVILLE, N.C.
DEAR NOT LAUGHING: Just this: What he's doing is immature and sadistic. Humor at the expense of others isn't "playful" -- it is hostile. Because it is causing anxiety attacks, consult your doctor and let the doctor explain to your husband the reason that what he's doing is a bad idea.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)