DEAR ABBY: I was picked on and bullied as a child. I was very insecure and dealt with low self-esteem. Through counseling I was able to overcome these issues to become a successful wife and mother. My question is, how do I prevent this from happening to my children without being an overprotective "bear" of a mom? -- MAMA BEAR IN NEW YORK
DEAR MAMA BEAR: Children with high self-esteem are less likely to be the targets of bullies. More often it's the child whose self-esteem is fragile to begin with who becomes the victim.
Children learn self-esteem from the way their parents treat them. Tell your children you love them, talk to them, read to them, listen to them and give them your undivided attention. And when they do something right, praise them.
If you teach your children respect for others and how to be independent, they will be less likely to be bullied. When they are old enough to have unsupervised access to their cellphones and online activities, you should also monitor them for any indication that they are being harassed or harassing another child.Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety
DEAR ABBY: I invited my sister "Alina" and her husband from out of town for Thanksgiving because they had no plans. I then extended an invitation to my other sister, "Marilyn," and her husband if they had no plans. Marilyn told me later that her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren will be coming in from out of town, so I assumed they'd be celebrating Thanksgiving at her house.
When Marilyn asked me if they were included I said no, that the invitation was for her and her husband if they had no plans. Now she is furious with me and won't talk to me. I already have my children coming over and that will be 10 guests, which is as many as I can accommodate. Who is right here? -- THANKSGIVING HOSTESS
DEAR HOSTESS: You are. Your sister should not have assumed that because you invited her and her husband for Thanksgiving that you were automatically obligated to entertain the rest of her family. It is your right to control your guest list, not hers.Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting | Holidays & Celebrations
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I had a beautiful wedding and were blessed with the presence of many family members and friends. I am embarrassed to admit that we unfortunately did not send out thank-you cards to our guests.
Three years have passed, and we still feel guilty for not expressing our genuine gratitude. We are expecting our first child in a few months -- another milestone we hope to share with our loved ones. Would it be OK to take this as an opportunity to finally thank them and share the news of our family? -- MOM-TO-BE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR MOM-TO-BE: It would be in better taste to deliver these messages separately -- first, your belated thank-you for your wedding gifts, and then, in a month or so when they have recovered from the shock, the news of your pregnancy and perhaps an invitation to your baby shower, which should be sent by whoever will be hosting it.Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce | Etiquette & Ethics
DEAR ABBY: My husband gave me a lovely necklace for my birthday. The problem is it's made of stainless steel and I'm allergic to it. He did this before, and that time I asked him to return it. However, he never got around to it and eventually it went to charity.
What do I do this time? Tell him and risk hurting his feelings? Or shove it in a drawer forever? -- THANKS, BUT ... IN AUSTRIA
DEAR THANKS, BUT ...: Say something like this to your husband: "Honey, the necklace is beautiful. You have wonderful taste. But remember? I'm allergic to stainless steel. Why don't we return it together and pick out something I'll be able to wear? Would Saturday be OK?"Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Health & Safety | Etiquette & Ethics
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.