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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: When I stopped by my brother's house a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned that his 9-year-old son was grounded in his bedroom. He was being punished for snooping in his dad's vintage collection of porn.

At first I was upset with my brother and his wife, because it was their fault that the boy had access to it, and boys are naturally curious. But when I found out what his punishment was, I became enraged. Their "brilliant" idea was to make my nephew disgusted with porn by forcing him to look at the entire collection for three hours instead of playing outside.

Maybe this tactic works for cigarette smoking or chewing tobacco, but this seemed very wrong. I was so appalled, I overstepped; I went straight into my nephew's room and told him he was allowed to go outside and play. Abby, what do you think? Am I being ridiculous? What should I have done? -- APPALLED IN OHIO

DEAR APPALLED: The child's punishment was extreme and inappropriate. What you should have done was point out to your brother and sister-in-law that their punishment may have been counterproductive. Rather than working as aversion therapy, it could result in whetting their son's appetite for more. You might also have suggested they consult a child psychologist for suggestions on how to deal with their son's budding sexual curiosity, which is entirely normal, and urged that from now on they keep their collection under lock and key.

Read more in: Family & Parenting

Man Approaches Newly Disabled Woman With Caution

DEAR ABBY: I recently met a very nice woman online. During our first phone call, she told me about an injury she received a few months ago that has left her with a disability. I'm not bothered by it, and I'd like to get to know her better.

From the way she responded to a few things, I got the impression that she is still coming to terms with what has happened, as anyone would be. I have no experience with a situation like this, and I have no idea if, from the perspective of dating, it is the right thing to engage someone who is going through this. Any thoughts? -- TENTATIVE IN INDIANA

DEAR TENTATIVE: Yes, it's the right thing -- but only if you can be supportive and patient during what has to be an extremely emotionally disruptive time in this woman's life. I am sure she could use a supportive male friend right now, as long as you two can continue to have an open and honest dialogue with each other.

Read more in: Love & Dating

Son's Aversion to Laundry Causes a Stink

DEAR ABBY: My 30-year-old son lives with me for financial reasons, and I love him dearly. He helps with bills and works a full-time job. My only problem with him is he wears the same pair of pants for weeks without washing them and hasn't washed his sheets in months. I didn't raise him that way. He does take a shower every night.

He owns only one pair of pants, and I can't get him to buy another pair. I have complained to him several times about the bad smell. How can I get him to change his ways? -- FED-UP MOTHER IN TEXAS

DEAR FED UP: At this point in his life, that may not be possible. It seems strange to me that someone who smells bad could hold a full-time job, but I will take your word for it. The easiest solution to your problem might be for you to wash his bedding every few weeks. As to the fact that he has only one pair of pants, buy him a pair for his next birthday or for Christmas -- whichever comes sooner.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety

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