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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Fights to Free Mom From Her Culture of Sacrifice

DEAR ABBY: I'm 22 and my mom is probably my best friend. She's from Lebanon and grew up during a time of war. Her culture taught her to sacrifice -- to put the needs of others before her own. She has a good job and earns an excellent salary.

My father is retired. Their marriage is not a good one, and Mom is in sort of a rut. She dresses sloppy and buys only "bargains." Her hair is always a mess. Every time we go shopping, it's a fight because I want her to buy the nice clothes she can afford. I want her to be presentable. But she's stubborn and always makes an excuse for why she "doesn't need them" or "can't get them." How should I handle this situation? -- CARING DAUGHTER IN ENCINO, CALIF.

DEAR CARING DAUGHTER: Where is the money your mother earns going? Is she saving or investing it? Does she give it to your father? She may present herself the way she does because she's depressed about her marriage or something else. Before trying again to give your mother an image reboot, talk with her. Tell her you love her, are concerned about her, and ask why she doesn't take better care of herself. Then listen. Your mother may come from another culture, but she has much to teach you.

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