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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Protests When Her Ex Leaves Her out of the Picture

DEAR ABBY: I'm a public school teacher with a word of advice to parents who wonder why their children misbehave, argue with them and act out with attention-getting behaviors: Put down your cellphones and pay attention to them!

I just finished a parent-teacher conference with a mother whose children argue, pout and scream when she tells them to do something at home. Her children are not disabled, nor do they demonstrate these behaviors in my classroom. Abby, during the entire meeting, that woman texted on her phone. How rude!

The next time I meet with someone who pulls that, I'll ask if she (or he) would like to suspend the meeting until their pressing business (pun intended) is finished. Maybe the parent needs to be embarrassed in order to realize how inappropriate texting or talking on the phone is when she (or he) is face-to-face with another person unless the other person says it's OK. -- HAS TO VENT

DEAR VENT: Vent away. I agree that what the mother did was disrespectful. It prevented you from effectively giving her information about her child that she needed to know.

As great a benefit as technology has been to society, it appears to also be a double-edged sword. By that I mean, while it fosters communication, it has kept parents from bonding with their toddlers and young people from learning to effectively communicate with each other face-to-face. The ultimate result of this is yet to be determined, but I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of people finding a balance so they can form healthy relationships. I hope your letter will serve as a wake-up call to someone who needs a reminder.