DEAR ABBY: I’m 15 and my mother makes me go to church every Sunday. I don’t like going. I believe in God, but I feel awkward when people ask me about it.
My mother makes everything bad until she gets her way. I have tried talking to her about it, but she doesn’t listen to me. I don’t know what to do. — DILEMMA IN TEXAS
DEAR DILEMMA: Your mother isn’t listening to you because she is convinced that she is doing the right thing for you. Not knowing how fervent she is about her church and her religion, it’s hard to predict how she would react if you tried to turn this into less of a power struggle and more of an adult conversation.
As it stands, you are a minor, and as long as you live under her roof, she makes the rules. When you are 18 and can live on your own, the decision of whether you want to continue going to church every Sunday will be yours. This may seem hard, but if your mother is unwilling to talk this through with you, you will have to be patient.
DEAR ABBY: My sister is a pathological liar who causes rifts between family members. She tries to turn us against each other. We must constantly check with each other to find out if what she has said about each of us is true. We can’t understand why she’s this way. None of the rest of us is. When I have asked her, “Why are you lying about me, us, etc.?” she tells me, “I did not lie.” I think she believes her lies.
We have all encouraged her to seek therapy, but she denies that she has a problem. We are at a loss at how to help her. We want a good relationship with her, but we don’t know how at this point. Should we distance ourselves from her? — SIB TROUBLE IN ALABAMA
DEAR SIB TROUBLE: You have two ways to go in dealing with your sister. Either accept that she’s disturbed and give little credence to ANYTHING she says that’s of a divisive nature, or do as you are inclined and distance yourselves.
DEAR ABBY: I lost my dear mother-in-law two years ago. She was a wonderful person, and I miss her. However, since her death, my in-laws have gone into overdrive ordering and gifting the family with items imprinted with her picture or with “in memory of” on them. There are plaques on chairs, memory gardens, pictures everywhere, T-shirts with her likeness, bumper stickers and items of jewelry. At what point do you conclude that this is unhealthy and enough is enough? Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a shrine dedicated to her. — SENSITIVE SITUATION
DEAR SENSITIVE: Your in-laws are grieving. I’m not sure it would be helpful to tell them that what they are doing is inappropriate. It would be kinder to quietly dispose of the unwanted items as you would any other gift you can’t use.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.