DEAR ABBY: In short, my son is a klutz -- to the point that it affects his self-confidence. He's different from everyone else in the family.
Is being a klutz genetic? Is it permanent? He's not doing well academically, either. How can I help him? -- PARENT WHO CARES
DEAR PARENT: One way to help your son would be to stop other family members from making fun of him and labeling him as a klutz. When people laugh and ridicule others, it makes them only more self-conscious and more clumsy.
Another way to help would be to have him examined by an ophthalmologist and a neurologist. His problem may be poor depth perception or a neurological or balance issue. And while you're at it, consider having him evaluated for a learning disability, which may be the cause of his academic difficulties.
DEAR ABBY: I have a pet peeve. I hate it when people ask to "try my meal" or to have a taste, especially when I haven't had one myself. When I say no, my boyfriend calls me selfish. If we're with friends, I feel obligated to say yes to avoid appearing rude.
I seldom trade bites with my boyfriend because I don't eat meat and he usually orders something I don't want. Some nights we cook our own separate meals, and he still asks to try mine (even though he's a better cook than I am).
Abby, how can I say no without looking or feeling selfish and rude? I just want to enjoy my entire meal without hearing, "Can I have a bite?" -- PET PEEVE IN PORTLAND
DEAR PET PEEVE: Many people regard sharing food to be an act of intimacy. Because it makes you uncomfortable, all you have to do is say, "I'd prefer not to." If these folks are friends, they must know how you feel about this by now. And as for your boyfriend, I can't help but wonder why he would persist in doing something that he knows annoys you unless he's doing it to tease you.
DEAR ABBY: Are night owls born or raised to stay up late? Can a night owl successfully become a morning lark? -- TIRED NIGHT OWL IN OTTAWA
DEAR TIRED NIGHT OWL: Night owls are usually born that way, but the pattern can be changed. If it creates problems for you, you may have a condition called "delayed sleep phase disorder." The most effective way to find out if this is your problem would be to consult a sleep (disorder) specialist. Therapies are available, and a specialist can help you determine which one would be the best for you.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)