DEAR ABBY: My husband's teenage son, "Danny," recently came to live with us. His mother has remarried and moved 2,000 miles away. Danny will visit her for a month this summer. Danny is basically a good kid, gets good grades, and appears to be making some nice friends at school and in the neighborhood.
The problem is, he's messy and I'm a perfectionist. I try to ignore the dirty clothes strewn across his bedroom floor, the food wrappers, the wet towels in the tub, etc. Although my husband is talking to Danny about the mess and there has been slight improvement, I was raised differently, Abby. I often find myself getting furiously angry. I am afraid I am going to say or do something I will regret, and I don't want to jeopardize my relationship with Danny.
Can you suggest some ways to channel my anger? Do you have any ideas? -- TINA IN TENNESSEE
DEAR TINA: You've already taken the most important step -- recognizing your anger and what's triggering it. You want to avoid yelling at Danny or breaking things. Some suggestions: Walk away from the cause of your anger. Leave the room, leave the house if necessary, until you have regained control. Write a letter in which you express your feelings. You may never give that letter to Danny -- in fact, you probably shouldn't -- but you will feel 100 percent better once you have gotten it out of your system. Be sure to show your letter to your husband. He should know to what degree Danny's habits are affecting you.
There are other healthy, acceptable ways to express anger. I have incorporated some of them in my booklet, "The Anger in All of Us, and How to Deal With It." It can be ordered by sending a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0477. (Postage is included in the price.)