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DEAR ABBY: What do I say to people who give me unsolicited parenting advice or scold my daughter in public? I would never interfere with another parent or direct a child who isn't in my care. What gives these people the right to barge into someone else's life in such a way?

I have been chastised for letting my daughter sit on the floor while waiting in a long line, letting her be more than 4 feet away from me in the aisles, and allowing her to speak loudly. She's 3. I don't hire a sitter for running errands and I can't leave her in the car.

It's hard enough wrangling an energetic kid while trying to shop, do banking or send mail without being constantly pestered by strangers. Do you have any thoughts on this? -- MOM IN HILLSBORO, ORE.

DEAR MOM: If your child is so disruptive that individuals feel the need to intervene or offer "parenting advice," then it's time you took some of it to heart. If she's bored while you're doing errands, bring something along for her to do rather than use her "outside voice" or run wild in the aisles.


Mom and Daughter Clash Over Perfect Prom Dress

DEAR ABBY: Prom is less than three weeks away, and I'm still looking for the perfect dress. My mom and I went prom dress shopping one time -- but everything I liked, she didn't. She told me that if she didn't like the dress, she was not going to purchase it.

I tried to tell her this is my prom and I should like the dress, not her, without sounding mean. She told me I should pick the cheapest dress.

Am I wrong for not liking the dresses she likes? How can I get through to her that this is not her prom, but my prom? -- AGGRAVATED IN LOUISIANA

DEAR AGGRAVATED: When you start buying your own wardrobe, your taste can be the deciding factor. However, when your mother buys it FOR you, it's important to remember that her budget needs to be considered and try to be gracious about it. As you will discover when you are older, because a dress is expensive does not guarantee that it's the prettiest or that it will look great on you.


Earth Day Is a Great Day to Start Recycling

DEAR ABBY: Friday, April 22, is Earth Day. Recycling is so important to our planet's irreplaceable resources. Can you please remind your readers how long it takes items to break down in a landfill? -- SCOTT IN TEXAS

DEAR SCOTT: Items such as glass bottles and jars, plastic containers, aluminum cans, disposable diapers and plastic foam cups can take from hundreds to thousands of years -- or more -- to decompose. Cigarette butts can take up to 10 years. I encourage interested readers to go online, see the figures and learn what they can do to reduce, reuse or recycle.

Earth Day offers a chance for all of us to do something positive for the planet. Many parents use it as an opportunity to bond with their children, and some schools offer credit to students who participate. Helping children understand how the garbage they produce impacts their environment is important, so please, Readers, do what you can.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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