DEAR HARRIETTE: I am almost certain that my sister stole money from my room. She knows where I hide my money box, and the other day I noticed that it was empty except for some loose coins. I did have $40 in there. It's just the two of us and our parents in our house, and I can't imagine why my parents would steal money from me. My sister, on the other hand, is always shopping. We are both teenagers, but I have a job and she isn't old enough to have one yet. I want to ask her about it, but I think she will probably lie. What should I do? I want my money. -- Victim, Syracuse, N.Y.
DEAR VICTIM: Tell your mom what happened -- that you had $40 in your money box and it is missing. Ask if she knows anything about it. Tell her your suspicions, and ask her to help you address them.
By talking it out with your mother, you will be able to vent your frustration with an adult who can help you to calm down. If she knows anything about the situation, she will tell you. She will also give you her opinion about your sister and her potential actions.
When you ask your sister about the missing cash, do your best not to be accusatory. You can tell her what happened and ask her if she knows anything about it. If you remain neutral in your questioning and if she took the money, she may be willing to tell you. For example, she may believe she borrowed it and intended to replace it right away. If she admits "borrowing" the money, ask her to give it back to you immediately.
Find a better hiding place for your money. Now may be the perfect time to ask your mother to open a bank account for you if you don't already have one.
DEAR HARRIETTE: There is only one good solution for "Outraged" who is tired of rude and pushy shoppers ... RUN from "Yankee Land" as quickly as possible and come to the genteel South, where life moves more slowly and certainly more politely! You would never leave! Born a "Southern belle" and will die one! -- Belle, Shreveport, La.
DEAR BELLE: Oh, I couldn't resist running your letter! I'm sure that Northerners would beg to differ with you. Of course, there are well-behaved people above the Mason-Dixon line, but I absolutely love your invitation.
Let's use your invitation of hospitality as a challenge to everyone to choose to be polite. Wherever you live, you can choose that option. Imagine how much more easeful the world would be.
And, per your invitation, we might all enjoy a visit to your great town. Thanks for writing.