DEAR ABBY: I'm a boy in eighth grade with a big problem. My parents constantly talk about their finances in front of me. We are not poor, but we're far from rich. It bothers me when they talk about how much money they owe or if they're in debt or not.
I have asked my parents several times not to talk about money in front of me. However, they insist that I'm old enough to hear about it. I'm a natural worrier, and when they talk about financial issues it makes me think something terrible is going to happen to us. What should I do? -- STILL A KID IN LINWOOD, N.J.
DEAR STILL A KID: One of the hardest things for many people to talk about is money -- or lack of it. And yet, not talking about it can cause more problems than airing the subject. Your parents may be trying to educate you about finances because many schools don't do it. But if it becomes too stressful for you, then leave the room.
DEAR ABBY: Although I don't think my last name is a particularly difficult one, people often struggle with it when they go to write it after I say it. I understand this and it does not bother me. As a matter of habit, I routinely spell my name immediately after I say it, to assist the person who is writing it down.
A security guard who works at a client's building I visit a few times a year has reacted in a hostile manner because I spell my name when she asks for it. She may be under the impression that I think my name is beyond her capabilities -- which isn't true.
Abby, is spelling my name condescending or disrespectful to someone in a business setting? Is my routine practice annoying or is the guard overly sensitive? -- BILL "X" IN GEORGETOWN, DEL.
DEAR BILL "X": She may be overly sensitive or, because you have already spelled your name for her several times, she may be under the impression that you think she's not very bright. Perhaps in the future you should modify your delivery: "My name is Bill 'Xybleniwicz.' I'll spell it for you if you'd like me to ..."
DEAR ABBY: For the past several years I have worked in a medical office. I see patients every three months or as little as once a year.
Two years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away last spring. Because of the stress of my dear mother's illness and death, my weight has fluctuated.
Some of my patients don't hesitate to point out how "chunky" I have become. One woman even went so far as to ask if I was "happy with the way I have let myself go." Abby, how do I defend my weight gain without getting into my personal life? -- IMPATIENT WITH MY PATIENTS IN RHODE ISLAND
DEAR IMPATIENT: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. I'm sure the last two years have been painful. I see no reason why, if someone is so insensitive as to mention your weight, you shouldn't let the person have the truth with both barrels. If that doesn't shame him or her into an apology, nothing will. However, because you prefer to conceal it, try this response: "You know, I gained this weight the old-fashioned way -- one bite at a time, and that's the way it'll have to come off."
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