Dear Abby: Teen’s improper clothes, behavior mar family funeral

Devastated survivors struggle to grieve as the deceased’s great-granddaughter calls attention to herself.

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DEAR ABBY: Our dear mother recently passed away after an extended illness. We all knew it was inevitable, but it didn’t make our loss any easier. My siblings and I were devastated, and we still are. The day of her funeral was especially hard.

One of our older daughters brought her children, our granddaughters (13 and 19 years old), to the funeral. While everyone else was dressed appropriately, one of our granddaughters wore tattered jeans with a loose top that exposed her belly. When one of her uncles mentioned her attire, she snapped that we had better things to think about. I was very upset and wanted to yell at her to leave, but my grief overcame my anger.

The whole time this granddaughter was there, she made sure everyone knew she was. I burst into tears, but that didn’t seem to bother her. Rather than allow the family to grieve, it was more important to her that nobody was going to tell her what to do.

I want to tell her how we all felt about her attire and her attitude. I don’t want to ruin my relationship with her, but honestly, if another family member passes, none of us wants to deal with her attitude while we are grieving. How do I tell her how disrespectful she was and that the time was not for her — it was for us as a family to grieve? — STILL SAD IN THE EAST

DEAR STILL SAD: Your granddaughter’s behavior at her great-grandmother’s funeral was atrocious. It was worse than her attire. The people who should “explain” proper attire and funeral etiquette to her are her parents, not you. Discuss this with them when you can do it calmly, since you and your siblings still are in pain, and your emotions are raw.

DEAR ABBY: I am a stepfather to five kids. Three are over 18; the other two are young teens. I need help explaining to my wife the importance of having the younger kids take responsibility in life. Each time I start talking about it, she says it stresses her out.

She has a busy career and shoulders the responsibilities the kids should be doing. She’s a wonderful mother, but I feel she is becoming a crutch to them. I want the kids to be successful, but I think they are being held back. How do I address this in a positive way? — LOST FOR WORDS IN MICHIGAN

DEAR LOST: Sometimes well-meaning parents can do too much for their kids. A positive way to approach this sensitive subject with your wife would be to explain that you want those children to be capable of becoming INDEPENDENT when they are older. To achieve that, they need to learn certain skills NOW so they can practice them while they are young adults.

Many families accomplish this by giving their tweens and teens an allowance in return for taking on certain household chores. It shouldn’t stress out your wife to discuss this with you and consider the wisdom of it. Because she is so busy working, it might be helpful if you took the lead on this by broaching the subject with the kids, and showing them what they have to gain if they agree.

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.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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