DEAR ABBY: My 16-year-old daughter, "Katie," leaves her nice clothes, wet towels and debris strewn around her room. She stays with me half the time, and her mother the other half. She's involved in activities and Advanced Placement courses in school, so when she gets home, she studies or needs to sleep. I remind her to pick her things up off the floor, but she rarely does it.
I keep going back and forth on the correct way to handle this. Should I just leave them and allow Katie to live in a mess until she gets sick of it, or straighten up ahead of time so when she comes over her room is tidy, and maybe she'll realize it's how the place should always look? She's a sweet, loving and considerate kid, but, frankly, she gets very dramatic -- especially when she's hormonal -- which makes it hard for a rational conversation. Thank you for any help you can offer. --FRUSTRATED FATHER IN FLORIDA
DEAR FRUSTRATED FATHER: You and your ex-wife may be divorced, but you need to be on the same page when it comes to parenting. Ask her if she allows clothing and towels to be left on the floor of Katie's room and, if not, how she handles it. Even if it doesn't bother your ex, you should still remind your daughter that when she gets to college, she'll be a more desirable roommate if she keeps her living quarters tidy, and that it would be better for her to acquire the habit now. Be sure she knows you are saying it to help her, not to be an ogre. It's your house, and you should be making the rules.
DEAR ABBY: Recently some of my extended family had dinner together at a restaurant. After the waiter brought our meal to the table, my adult nephew asked all 10 of us to pause before eating while he "offered thanks" for the meal. Most of the family is religious and may not have minded doing it even though they never do it themselves in public. However, some of us are not religious and never pray before meals, something everyone there has known for decades.
If we gather at someone's house, we follow the custom of the host and there's no objection, but I think it's presumptuous to insist on making everyone wait while they perform this ritual in public. No one will mind you praying silently to yourself, but please be considerate of others and refrain from turning every gathering into your personal prayer meeting. -- GODLESS IN TEXAS
DEAR GODLESS: Unless your nephew was delivering a sermon and you were experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia, I don't think it was a great imposition to wait until he said the blessing.
That said, because you felt imposed upon, say something to your nephew -- or, because you know that he does this, pass on the next dinner invitation.
DEAR ABBY: I just recently had my heart broken. After this girl left me, I started talking to some other girls I like, and they like me back. The problem is, I want to date these girls, but I don't want to just date one and have the others be sad because I didn't choose them. What should I do? -- KEEPING EVERYONE HAPPY
DEAR KEEPING: Explain to the girls that you like them, but you have been through a recent painful breakup and you are not ready for another exclusive relationship right now. It's called "playing the field," and it's also the truth.
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