Dear Abby: Stop complimenting my 4-year-old on her looks

Mom is tired of relatives and strangers making comments about the child’s beauty.

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DEAR ABBY: I have been blessed with a gorgeous 4-year-old daughter who is (even more importantly) smart, funny and kind, but I have an issue. Every time we go anywhere or meet someone new, the person feels the need to comment on her beauty. We receive comments like, “Just wait till she’s older. Boys will be all over her!” This happens not only with older distant relatives and my in-laws, but also random people at the grocery store.

I understand they are trying to pay a compliment, but I find it disturbing that they are thinking about my little girl in this way. I’m tired of it, but I’m not sure of the appropriate response when people make those comments. — PROTECTIVE MOMMA

DEAR PROTECTIVE: Talk privately with the relatives and tell them you don’t want them filling her head with that nonsense before she’s even in elementary school. Tell them you prefer she be praised instead for her brains, her manners and her niceness, which will reinforce the qualities you are trying to instill in your daughter. And when a stranger does it at the grocery store, immediately interject with examples of her more important internal qualities.

DEAR ABBY: I dated a guy who was in a nasty divorce and custody battle. He gained primary custody, but his ex wouldn’t stop taking him to court. She was very unstable.

After four YEARS of being patient, it became frustrating. One day I pointed out that the situation was taking up all his time and energy, and I wasn’t getting the attention I needed. I sarcastically suggested maybe he should shift his full attention to the situation, and we should take a break.

He agreed (via text) that he had a lot going on, then immediately stopped communicating with me. I texted, called, sent cards and received no replies. It has been a year, and I feel like I can’t move on without closure or at least a conversation. I have tried dating at the suggestion of friends, but it doesn’t work because I still love him. What steps can I take to move on? — FROZEN IN PLACE IN ALABAMA

DEAR FROZEN: Painful as it may be, accept it. Give yourself a specific period in which to mourn and tell yourself the man is dead. (The romance certainly is, and you have my sympathy for the loss.) Wear black, toss out any mementos, and get together with a few close friends for a memorial for what might have been. Then “bury” him with as many tears as necessary and look resolutely ahead. (I did this once many years ago, and it worked.)

DEAR ABBY: Every time we are in a restaurant, my cousin wants a bite of everything on everyone’s plate. I don’t know how to say no, but being a health care worker, I know it’s not safe to do all that sharing. How can I say no? She’s leaning over my plate with her mouth open! Thank you for any ideas. — BEACH BABE IN FLORIDA

DEAR BABE: You have a right to refuse. But if you can’t muster the word “no,” place a forkful of whatever your cousin is ogling on your butter plate and hand it to her. That way her dirty fork won’t contaminate your food, and you won’t have to spoon-feed her.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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