DEAR ABBY: My 12-year-old daughter, "Mandy," was invited to a friend's birthday party along with 12 other girls. They were told to meet at the mall where they'd "go shopping" together, then go for a sleepover afterward.
The birthday girl told her friends to bring money as gifts. Well, she raked in more than $300 then proceeded to spend it all on herself while her friends stood and watched. Mandy returned home the next day and told me that although the girl spent the money on herself, her mom did buy them each a beverage.
Abby, I gave my daughter $20 to go to the party, thinking the money would be for all of their fun -- not the birthday girl's financial gain. I thought your readers might want to learn from my mistake. These days, a birthday party may not be a party at all! -- HORRIFIED IN WICHITA
DEAR HORRIFIED: While this may have been shocking to you, the kind of party you have described may be acceptable to your daughter and her circle of friends. The birthday girl's intentions could have been made more clear -- she requested money as gifts and instructed everyone to meet at the mall. However, they accepted the invitation on her terms. The sleepover may have been the party. I hope they were fed after the mall crawl because they must have been starving.
DEAR ABBY: My dad died unexpectedly last year, three months before my 18th birthday. He had been kicked out of the house a few months prior to that because he was a horrible alcoholic who destroyed everything he ever cared about. He froze to death, alone.
My boyfriend is my soul mate. He has been my only source of support since Dad died. Mom ignores everything and has left me alone to go through all of this, spending my Social Security on vacations we could never have afforded before. My best friend is away at school in a different state and I'm more alone than ever. How am I supposed to survive all this alone? -- ALWAYS ALONE
DEAR ALONE: Please accept my sympathy for the tragic loss of your father, who paid the ultimate price for his addiction. You write well and are obviously intelligent. If you're still in school, counseling may be available for you if there is a counselor on staff. Because your mother is emotionally unavailable and your best friend is out of state, your friend's mother might be willing to listen and advise you during this difficult period.
DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law is a widow. She says she no longer wants to be addressed as Mrs. because she is not married. I thought that once married you were always a Mrs. unless you choose to be a Ms. Isn't it proper for a widow to be addressed as Mrs.? -- DAUGHTER-IN-LAW IN WASHINGTON STATE
DEAR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: As a widow your mother-in-law can continue to use her married name -- or adopt any name she chooses. If she prefers not to be called Mrs. her wishes should be respected. Some widows prefer to be called "Mrs. John Jones" for the rest of their lives, while others do not. If your mother-in-law prefers "Ms. Betty Jones," that's fine, too. It's a personal choice.
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