DEAR ABBY: I have a 17-year-old son. He spends half his time with me and the other half with his mom. My question is about his cellphone.
I can use an app on my phone to see the location of his phone. A friend of mine tells me I shouldn’t stalk him or spy on him this way. She says it shows I don’t trust or respect him. My son knows I can — and do — check on him using the GPS function in the phone, and he can do the same to locate me.
Checking on him from time to time gives me some comfort. I can’t see who he’s with or what he’s doing, but I can see if he’s where I expect him to be.
What do you think? Am I harming him by checking on him? Or am I “stalking” him, as my friend says? — DAD WHO CARES IN OHIO
DEAR DAD: You and your friend appear to have different parenting styles. As long as your son is aware that you occasionally check his whereabouts, I don’t consider what you’re doing to be either harmful or stalking. As a parent, you have a right to know where your minor child is, and the GPS feature you describe has been known to save lives in the event of an emergency.
DEAR ABBY: I’m a sophomore in high school. I know this sounds awful, but I hate my father. If anyone disagrees with anything he says, that person is always wrong and he is right. (This includes scientific facts.) He is also a bigot who says horribly racist, sexist and homophobic things.
He has made me feel awful about the choices I have made in athletics and academics, and he gets angry at the drop of a hat for little things, like if I haven’t organized the shoes in my closet. He yells and guilt trips my little sister until she cries.
I don’t think I can take three more years of this. I’m uncomfortable anytime I’m around him. I can’t talk to him because it’s his way or the highway, and Mom doesn’t want to make him angry, so she says nothing. What do I do? — DISTRESSED DAUGHTER
DEAR DAUGHTER: Your father appears to be a man with a lot of problems, but you can’t fix them. Because your mother is afraid to speak up, he probably won’t change. She may stay with him because she’s afraid she can’t support herself and you girls on her own. Learn from her example, and resolve to be economically independent before you marry anyone.
Recognize that your father is the product of the way he was raised. It’s likely he learned to be a bigot and verbal abuser from his own parents. Make up your mind that you will never be that way.
Because you are uncomfortable around your father, spend less time around him if you can. Try to be supportive of your sister, because she needs it and will as long as she lives in that house. And remember, three more years may seem like forever now, but in the scheme of things, it isn’t. Once you are no longer a minor and have a job, you can arrange to get out of there.
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.