DEAR HARRIETTE: My 15-year-old daughter wants to get her nose and eyebrow pierced. Her best friend from school just did it, and now she thinks it's her turn. I think it's a terrible idea. I think it will limit her options for work before she even figures out what she wants to do in her life.
I don't mean to be a party pooper, but I think my job as her mother is to help guide her to make smart choices as she grows up. This is difficult to do when her peers are being allowed to make other decisions. How can I keep my daughter following the path we laid out for her, given all of the outside factors? -- Pierced, Washington, D.C.
DEAR PIERCED: Your job is to guide your daughter and to set restrictions while she is still a minor. You have the legal right to prohibit her from getting these additional piercings, at least for now. In the best of worlds, you won't have to use that card, though.
Instead, talk to your daughter about her choices. Tell her about the range of career opportunities before her, and point out that in some fields multiple piercings and tattoos can prove to be a deterrent. Let her know that some fields allow them as well, but your job is to help her have as many options as possible until she is ready to choose her path. Encourage her to wait to make any permanent markings or holes in her body until she has reached the stage of knowing what she wants to do with her life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I belong to a social club that hosts monthly gatherings for all its members. We rotate who will host each meeting, and it's a lot of fun. A couple of the members are well-off, and they have been competing with each other for who can make the fanciest affair. I think it has gotten out of hand. If one hosts at a four-star restaurant, the other hires an in-house chef to prepare a six-course meal. What used to be girlfriends getting together to enjoy each other's company has turned into a reality show.
I don't like it anymore. I've been thinking about leaving the group, but I feel bad that two women could spoil it for all of us. Do I dare say anything to the rest of the group? I want the shenanigans to stop. -- Back to Normal, Glen Cove, New York
DEAR BACK TO NORMAL: Call a meeting of your club's leadership and express your concerns. Explain that you think it's important for the camaraderie to come before the pageantry. Find out if others share your view. Ask if you can bring your concerns to the whole group. Be thoughtful and strategic. Point out that what started out as fun competition seems to have turned into something unhealthy for the group. Ask everyone if they would like to go back to simpler activities. Be sure to include the two reality stars in your decision-making. They may not realize how far out of hand they have gotten.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My family reunion is coming up, and I don't want to go. The past year has been a mess for me. My wife left me. I lost my job, and I've been temping for the past six months. I have no good news to contribute, and I don't feel like answering a whole bunch of questions.
I know my family means well, but when you are in my position, the last thing you want to do is talk about your misery. Or at least that's true for me. My mother is getting up in age, and she is set on having me pick her up and take her to the reunion. I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to disappoint her, but I don't want to have to talk to people, either. -- Keeping My Distance, Roanoke, Virginia
DEAR KEEPING MY DISTANCE: I want to remind you that most people like to talk about themselves, including your family members. You can likely go to the reunion, help your mother and divert most conversations back to the person talking. When asked how you are doing, you can say "OK," and ask about them. Ask about their children, jobs and lives.
Most people get caught up in their own stories and don't notice that you haven't told your own. If you are asked where your wife is, just say she didn't come. In time, you can let others know what's going on with you, if you choose. What's essential is that your mother must agree not to talk about your circumstances. Otherwise, it won't work.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106
DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old girl in a somewhat happy relationship. When I first started dating my boyfriend, he was all about it, as was I. But now it seems like he's only interested in sex. He's always asking me to send him videos and pictures of myself nude, and I just keep telling him I'm not ready for anything like that. I also don't think he is understanding my comfort zone about the topic of us having sex.
I have told my friends. They say I'm in an unhealthy relationship because he might pressure me into something I don't want to do. So now, I'm debating whether or not to break up with him. Do you think I should stay with him or break up with him? -- TEEN IN EDMONTON, CANADA
DEAR TEEN: Your friends are right. This romance doesn't appear to be headed anywhere healthy.
Naked pictures are considered pornographic and could get you and that young man in serious trouble. Surely you are aware that once something gets on the internet, it's in the public domain forever. Once you have sent your boyfriend the pictures, they could wind up passed around and viewed by everyone at your school.
Your resolve not to have sex may be rock solid, but even granite can eventually be eroded by a constant drip of water. Don't think for one moment he doesn't understand how you feel about not having sex with him. If he cared about your comfort zone, he would stop bringing the subject up and trying to wear you down. Because he persists, you should break up with him.
DEAR ABBY: I have been divorced for eight years and have a wonderful, kindhearted 13-year-old son. My ex-husband and I barely communicate because he was very hurtful and controlling. He was supposed to pay some form of child support, but has never given me a dime. He refuses because of my income, and he hides his money in his business.
I have come to accept his selfishness, but a month ago he "borrowed" $130 from my son's piggy bank -- hard-earned money his relatives gave him for doing chores, getting good grades and birthday gifts. My son has asked his father to return the money, but it has been more than a month and his dad keeps making excuses.
My son is devastated that his dad took his money. It didn't surprise me because my ex always felt entitled to other people's things. What advice can I give my son on how to get his money back, or is it gone forever? -- PIGGY BANK ROBBERY
DEAR ROBBERY: That your ex would steal money from his son and stonewall about returning it is shameful. Tell your son you are sorry his father let him down, and that the money likely won't be returned.
Then advise him that because the piggy bank wasn't secure, it's time the two of you opened a bank account for him and that the signatories will be you and him. This will prevent a repeat of what happened. If it's an interest-bearing account, it will earn money while it's there instead of sitting idle with "Miss Piggy."
DEAR ABBY: I have been in two relationships. The first was with a girl a couple of years older than I am. We were together for several years before she cheated on me and dumped me. I was crushed. The next girl was a few years younger. She did the same thing after we were together a year.
What am I doing wrong? Fidelity is important to me, and they both knew it from the start. How can I avoid this in the future?
I have never been a controlling person. I was always fine with my girlfriends going out with their friends without me if I couldn't go for some reason. (That's how they ended up meeting the other guys.)
The people in lasting relationships I've seen watch each other like hawks, and never allow their significant other to be in the company of the opposite sex without them. Is this normal? Should I be like them? That seems controlling, but clearly, my "no boundaries" relationship style has backfired on me. -- CHEATED ON IN NEW YORK CITY
DEAR CHEATED ON: Few things can ruin a relationship or a marriage like obsessive jealousy can. Watching one's partner "like a hawk" is stifling. It will eventually drive the person away, as you will see as you continue to observe the couples you have mentioned. Please don't try to change the person you are because YOU are just fine.
I believe that in relationships there has to be a certain amount of responsibility. If someone is mature enough to be involved romantically, that person should be willing to admit if things aren't working out. Being cheated on is painful, and being dumped is equally so. Not every relationship leads to marriage, but rather than sneak around to avoid a frank conversation, it's better to practice the Golden Rule.
DEAR ABBY: I am in a predicament. My therapist is great, but sometimes I think she shares too much. Last time I went, she was running late. When I finally got into her office, she told me the previous patient was nonverbal and had painted her nails during the session. Later in the session, she confided that years ago she had been date raped.
Abby, I am in counseling because my father raped me when I was 15 (I am now 24). Her sharing has me worried because I don't want her telling others what I say or do during counseling. Further, her story of the date rape scared me. She described a situation that is not uncommon for me to be in, and it caused something almost like a flashback in me. I think what she did was insensitive, to say the least.
I have nobody else to ask, so what should I do? I'm getting counseling for free now due to my income, and it took months to get set up with a counselor. Should I report her or accept that this was a mistake and say nothing? If I need to report her, how would I go about doing that? -- CONFLICTED ABOUT IT
DEAR CONFLICTED: You should change therapists because it appears this one has more problems than you do. As to what agency you should report her breach of professional ethics to, contact the state organization that has licensed her to practice.
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
VALLES MINES -- Wanda Burns, 89, of Valles Mines, passed away September 13, 2017. Arrangements are pending at C. Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Home in Bonne Terre.
BONNE TERRE -- Tillman U. Ratty, 87, of Bonne Terre, passed away September 12, 2017, at Jefferson Barracks VA Medical Center. He was born July 16, 1930, in Leadwood. Tillman proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He volunteered for the Pevely Fire Department for numerous years and was a past board member of the Dunklin Fire Protection District. He also served as treasurer for the United Cement and Lime Gypsum Workers Union.
He was preceded in death by his parents, General Jasper and Elviria (Chamberlain) Ratty; step-mother, Opal Ratty; three brothers, Vernon Ratty, Stanley Ratty and Leon Ratty; sister, Charlotte Drinen.
Tillman is survived by his wife, Marilyn (Birks) Ratty; two daughters, Teri Enzmann and husband Herbert of Hillsboro and Mary Kay Gile and husband Elvin of Bonne Terre; four grandchildren, Joseph Gile, Phillip Gile, Kathryn (Matt) Harbison and Leslie (Daniel) Eaton; seven great-grandchildren, Mikala, Braelyn, Lydia, Lillian, Brooke, Owen and Addison; sister, Freda (Don) Marler.
Visitation will be Friday, September, 15, 2017, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the C. Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Home in Bonne Terre. Service will be Saturday at 10 a.m. at the C. Z. Boyer & Son Chapel in Bonne Terre with Rev. Larry Allison officiating. Interment will follow at Herculaneum Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Jefferson Barracks VA Hospice Unit. View obituary and share condolences online at www.czboyer.com.
DEAR DOCTOR: I've seen a lot of dogs recently in grocery stores and restaurants wearing those yellow service dog vests, but some of them can't obey even simple commands like "sit" and "stay." They seem to really be pets. What do trained service dogs do? Whom do they help?
DEAR READER: It's a shame when dog owners misrepresent their pets as service animals. No doubt some are legitimate "emotional support" animals, necessary companions for their owners to be able to spend time in public spaces. But federal law states that a service dog is one that has been specially trained to physically assist a person with a disability, including -- and we're quoting the law here -- "a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability."
It is on that basis that these devoted animals are granted access to venues and areas not open to other pets. With their rigorous training and specialized skills, service dogs open up the world for their handlers, and keep them safe within it.
Service dogs perform hundreds of tasks for more than a dozen types of disabilities. We're all familiar with guide dogs, which help people with impaired vision. They lead their handlers around obstacles like a park bench, a low-hanging awning or a hole in the ground. They warn them of changes in elevation, like a curb or the edge of a subway platform. They can follow a designated person, like a waiter in a restaurant, or find their handler an empty seat in a public space. And though their handlers are the decision-makers in the partnership, guide dogs have been taught "intelligent disobedience." When given a command to walk forward, if danger is present, like a sudden drop-off or oncoming traffic, they will refuse.
For people with impaired hearing, specially trained dogs become their ears. With a touch of their nose or a gentle paw, they can signal a ringing telephone, a crying baby, a smoke alarm, an alarm clock, a family member calling the handler's name, computer beeps, cellphone alerts and a person's arrival.
People with physical disabilities or missing limbs rely on their service dogs to help with mobility. These dogs can pull a lightweight wheelchair, offer assistance by bracing their handlers as they get up or down, and help their handlers rise if they should fall down. They can open doors, turn light switches on or off, and pick up objects as small as a dime.
Seizure dogs, which are trained to recognize their handlers' physical symptoms, can summon help by calling 911 via a special life-alert system, or provide physical stimulation. Like many service dogs, they are trained to retrieve medication. Diabetic alert dogs use their sense of smell to detect episodes of high or low blood sugar and warn their owners. Severe allergy alert dogs let their handlers know about life-threatening allergens nearby.
Service dogs are remarkable in their training and dedication. And though it's tempting to give them a pat or say hello, please don't. Service dogs out in public are at work. Correct etiquette is to ignore them, so they are not distracted from their job.
Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Ko, M.D., is an internist and primary care physician at UCLA Health.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o Media Relations, UCLA Health, 924 Westwood Blvd., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA, 90095. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.