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DEAR ABBY: When I was an adolescent, my father molested me. It took me 20 years to finally confide this secret to my mother. Afterward it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
That feeling lasted about two minutes. That's how long it took for her to get on the phone and spread the news to everyone she could think of.
This was two years ago and, after repeatedly asking her to stop, she continues to tell. Two days ago, I caught her spilling the beans to an acquaintance she hadn't spoken to in more than a decade. We got into a heated argument, and she told me she will say what she wants, whenever she wants, to whomever she wants.
My feelings are NOT considered, even though I was the victim in all of this. I feel she tells my story to gain sympathy for herself.
Abby, I'm ready to end my relationship with my mother. How can I make her stop flapping her lips?
- The Gossip's Daughter
DEAR DAUGHTER: I suspect you are correct about your mother's motives, and you have my sympathy. Because you can't "make her stop flapping her lips," you will have to accept that she can't be trusted with any confidential information.
As I see it, you have two choices. The first would be to cut her out of your life (for which I wouldn't blame you), and the other is to avoid sharing ANY personal information with her in the future.
DEAR ABBY: My 21-year-old daughter, "Shannon," has moved back home and has a part-time job. We pay for her health and car insurance. Because her funds are limited, I asked her to make me a list of things she might want for Christmas. The two things she wants are a tattoo and a piercing.
I told her that while I respect her wish to express herself, I do not want to pay for something like that. I said if she wants a tattoo and a piercing, she will have to save her money and get them. She became upset with me and said I should give her what SHE wants instead of something I prefer.
I know there are things Shannon needs. Am I selfish for not wanting to give her a tattoo or piercing when I'd rather spend my money on something more practical like shoes, clothing or incidentals?
- Sensible mom
DEAR SENSIBLE MOM: If you are uncomfortable paying for a body modification for your daughter, then don't do it. However, you should take into consideration that Shannon is an adult now and reconsider imposing your values on her.
If she were my daughter, I would give her a check for Christmas along with a note expressing holiday wishes and the thought that you gave her a healthy body, and with it, a nice complexion. It is now hers to do with as she wishes. Then cross your fingers and hope she'll have second thoughts.
DEAR ABBY: One of my neighbors insisted on giving me some handcrafted Christmas decorations that are hideous. I have never been big on decorating the outside of my home for the holidays, but when I do, I have my own that I like much better.
I know she expects me to display her items and will be all bent out of shape when she sees I haven't. Is there a diplomatic way to avoid hurt feelings?
- Florida reader
DEAR READER: Not really. So hang one or two of them in an inconspicuous place when you decorate for the holidays, so they will be "lost" among the items you prefer to display, or refrain from decorating this year.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.