DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old girl and a caring person. I’m worried about my mother. She has been an addict for nine years. She always says she wants help, but she never follows through with getting the help she needs. I have asked her many times to go and get help, and have told her how bad her using makes me feel.

What do you think I can do to encourage her to follow through with treatment? I miss my mother. Any advice would be appreciated. — IN NEED OF HELP IN OLYMPIA, WASH.

DEAR IN NEED OF HELP: You are not only a caring young woman, you are also mature for your age and intelligent. If your mother has been an addict since you were 6, your entire childhood has been spent taking care of her and raising yourself. I am truly sorry for that.

Because nothing you say gets through to her, consider moving in with another relative if that’s possible. You should also join a Narateen support group. It’s a 12-step program for teenage friends and family members of addicts. There is one in your city called “Hope for Today.” To find the location, check the Nar-Anon website, www.naranon.org.

DEAR ABBY: I am a grandmother, a former teacher and I have my master’s in child psychology. I was also a school board member. I love children.

Please pass this along to parents and anyone else who cares for children: Quit force-feeding them! Again and again I see parents beg and coerce their kids to eat. There are too many obese people in the world. Kids will eat when they are hungry. Just don’t give them any junk in between.

I know a dad who told me he forced his son to finish his food until the son went and threw up. He said he will never do that again. Remember, children have small stomachs. They don’t need to eat much to feel full. Restaurants serve too much.

Let kids eat when they need to. Just give them healthy choices. — DIANE IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR DIANE: Unfortunately, babies don’t come with written instructions. Many parents “encourage” their children to eat because they’re afraid if they don’t they’re not doing their job. It’s a reflection of their anxiety. Too often, mealtime turns into a power struggle, which is a big mistake.

What you have written is common sense. A pediatrician or health clinic can advise parents what and how much their child should eat. And I agree, restaurant portions are usually larger than customers should consume in one meal, which is why those who are watching their calories are advised to cut the portions in half before eating.

DEAR ABBY: I am a grown woman with a wonderful husband, two jobs and five beautiful children. I am a good person. My parents raised me to be respectful and accepting of all kinds of people.

My arms are partially tattooed with beautiful flowers. Family members openly express their dislike of it. They have a right to their thoughts and to say what they please. What can I say back that tells them how rude they are and how they hurt me? — INKED AND IRKED IN POCATELLO, IDAHO

DEAR INKED AND IRKED: You should say, “When you gave your opinion about my arms, I heard you the first time. For you to keep repeating it is insulting and hurtful, so please cut it out. I think my tattoos are beautiful and THAT’S what’s important.” And if your family members persist in making cruel comments, you have my permission to end the conversation.

DEAR ABBY: My inlaws double dip everything. During a holiday get-together, a family member stood eating out of a pot. Now my M-I-L informs me her daughter allows her dog to eat off the plates, but “she uses a dishwasher” so I shouldn’t worry about germs.

How do I handle this? I can’t eat there again. — GROSSED OUT IN GROSSE POINT

DEAR GROSSED OUT: Eat before you go, and go as infrequently as possible.

DEAR ABBY: My brother mocks everything I do, the friends I spend time with and my politics. When we’re together, he is often condescending and confrontational. I’m tired of arguing when I go to his home and he asks me what’s going on. I have started to answer, “Nothing.” So now he tells me how “boring” I am, in addition to his other criticisms.

Abby, his comments are hurtful and I try to stay away from him, but I love my little nieces and want to be around them as they grow up. I don’t have problems with anyone but him. Our other brother stopped talking to him years ago, but I don’t think I can do anything that extreme.

How can I change the dynamic in our relationship? It doesn’t seem to have progressed since we were kids. — UNDER ATTACK IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR UNDER ATTACK: The dynamic in your relationship hasn’t changed since you were kids because your brother never stopped being a bully. He calls you boring when you don’t take the bait because he considers belittling you to be a form of entertainment. You can’t change him. If you point out what he’s doing, he will deny it and blame you for being “too sensitive.”

You can, however, understand his childish motivation. Ignore him as much as possible and focus your attention on your nieces since that’s your only reason for going over there anyway.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com


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