DEAR ABBY: What are the signs of prescription drug abuse? How would you suggest a young person like me (I am 13) confront a close family member about something like this, especially since I'm not sure?
I found an antidepressant prescribed for my mother. As long as I can remember, she has been a happy and upbeat person, and I have no reason to suspect she's depressed. I'm worried she may be abusing the medication.
I have never felt comfortable asking questions, so it would not be easy for me to ask her. Please help. I now have trouble even speaking to her. Any advice would be appreciated. -- WORRIED TEEN IN BOSTON
DEAR WORRIED TEEN: Perhaps it will lessen your fears to know that antidepressants are sometimes prescribed not only for depression, but also to help people with sleep problems and other conditions. You have reached an age when it is important for teens to be able to talk to their parents about any concerns they may have, and you should talk to your mom about this. Please don't procrastinate.
DEAR ABBY: You once wrote that you were allowed to read anything growing up -- nothing was taboo. We can all use good advice and be prepared when we encounter difficult situations.
I took that to heart and decided my children should read your column with me instead of my lecturing/instructing them about life. So now they take turns reading the questions aloud. We have a group discussion, and we all give our answers to the questions before we read your answers. If all of our answers are different, we have a new discussion.
I love it because of the topics that come up. My children are learning how to reason, and that people from all walks of life (and all ages) have problems and need help. And finally, I love that my children realize that it's OK to ask for help, and they shouldn't worry or feel ashamed to ask in any situation.
Thank you so much, Abby. Your column is a great parenting tool for me and my husband. -- MRS. M. IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR MRS. M.: Thank you for your kind words. My column may be a useful teaching tool, but you and your husband are using it wisely. While not everyone may agree with everything that's printed in my column, the discussions it often generates are helpful for sharing ideas and clarifying family values. This kind of communication brings families closer together.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I recently got engaged, and I was thrilled when he got down on one knee with my great-grandmother's ring. While I love both the ring and the idea that we saved a lot of money we can now put toward our wedding, I can tell he feels awkward when well-wishers congratulate him on having selected such a pretty and expensive ring. What's the best way to respond to these comments and make my fiance feel like he did a great job? -- VINTAGE-LOVING BRIDE
DEAR VLB: It isn't necessary to discuss the history of the ring with everyone who comments. Because you know your fiance is sensitive about it, just smile and say thank you.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)