DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to Mary Lou Childs' letter about how parents today are so much more lenient with their kids, and "more concerned with being their children's pals" than with disciplining them.
First, I would like to know whose house she has been visiting. I am a 15-year-old girl, and both my younger sister and I are severely punished for anything our parents find inappropriate. Trust me, it's happened. And I can tell you, Abby, that neither of us whines or carries on when we get punished because if we don't realize our own mistake in the first place, we know that arguing won't change their minds.
Granted, my mother and father set pretty fair rules and usually leave them open for discussion. But this does not mean that we don't have rules at all. If my parents do consult with me on such issues as extending a curfew, it's only because they believe I am old enough to start forming my own opinions and looking out for my own good.
I also found Childs' comment about "when I was a kid" extremely stereotypical of adults. It's time to quit reminiscing about those days. The past is simply that -- over and done with. Maybe parents were more strict "back then," but I feel that growing up is a much more difficult task in the '90s than it was years ago. And please remember that teens today have different circumstances and rules to live by. -- LAURA N. KELLY, JOLIET, ILL.
DEAR LAURA: Thank you for an intelligent letter. Obviously you come from a home where expectations for your ability are high -- but limits are set and enforced. My response to Mary Lou Childs was that many parents seem reluctant to enforce their own rules for fear of traumatizing their little ones, and an excellent way to ensure obedience is to state one's wishes in a tone that lets the child know this is not something open for discussion. Also, Ms. Childs was writing about small children, not young adults.