DEAR ABBY: My niece, "Vicki," will be 18 in a few days. She works part-time and has started college. Her mom, my sister, lost her husband last year.
Vicki did some research on finding herself the right pet because my sister has allergies. With her own money, Vicki purchased a little garter snake.
Unknown to us, Grandma had an incident with a snake as a child. Grandma has now threatened to never visit Vicki! She said, if anyone gets sick, don't call her. Vicki now feels she must choose between Grandma and her pet, and she's heartbroken.
My niece doesn't drink, sleep around or use drugs. All she wanted was something to love after losing her father. We don't think her grandmother should make her choose, feel guilty or threaten a fractured relationship. Please advise. -- SUPPORTIVE AUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR AUNT: Grandma's reaction is extreme, to say the least. A compromise would be for everyone to agree that when Grandma visits, Vicki's garter snake will be kept out of sight and confined to its little "herpetarium." But if Grandma can't accept that, Vicki will have to visit Granny at her house.Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death
DEAR ABBY: How do you let friends know that you've outgrown them without hurting their feelings? I have a couple of friends I would rather not socialize with anymore. I feel I have changed and grown into a different person. I'm sure these people will confront me one day about why I don't return their calls or want to do things with them anymore. I don't want to hurt their feelings or have an unpleasant confrontation with them. Can you help? -- OUTGROWN IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR OUTGROWN: Not returning phone calls is rude, but no law says that you are obligated to return them immediately. A reason might be that you are busy. People are legitimately busy these days. If you are challenged about why you are less available, an honest answer might be, again, that you are busy or the activity is of less interest to you than it used to be.
Relationships do not always remain static. But no one has a right to create an unpleasant confrontation because you are not at their beck and call. If you are cornered, it is all right to reply that you feel you have changed, it's nothing personal, but you don't wish to hang out as often as before.Read more in: Friends & Neighbors
DEAR ABBY: My boss often naps at work. I find it disconcerting. When clients call on the phone, I have to tell them he is "not available." He also seems distracted and isn't following through on work that needs to be done. I could never take a nap at work. Have you any suggestions on how I can handle this situation? -- ALERT IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ALERT: You are not your employer's monitor, and your own sleeping habits do not enter into this. There could be more than one reason why he needs his naps. What he does in his private office is not your business. Handle the situation by doing as you have been instructed and refraining from being judgmental.Read more in: Work & School
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.