DEAR ABBY: My brother is 9 and still walks around naked. I have asked “Josh” repeatedly to put on some clothes, but he blows me off and flaunts himself around the house.
My mother is no help. When I ask her to talk to him, she laughs and says, “Boys will be boys.” Abby, I’m 13 and it is starting to freak me out. Am I being paranoid, or am I right to want him to put on a pair of boxers or something? — OLDER SISTER IN MCALLEN, TEXAS
DEAR OLDER SISTER: Your mother is right about one thing: Boys WILL be boys. Your brother is acting like an immature child who’s enjoying teasing his sister.
On the other hand, she’s wrong to laugh off your discomfort. One reason children have parents is so someone can teach them respect for the feelings of others. At 9, Josh is too big to ignore, and at 13, you are no longer a little girl. If he wants to be naked in his bedroom, fine and dandy. But when he’s in the rooms shared by everyone, he should cover up. And if he doesn’t, there should be consequences.
DEAR ABBY: My ex-mother-in-law died unexpectedly three weeks ago. We were very close, and I handled most of the arrangements. She left no will, so my ex-husband and I did our best to provide what we thought she would have wanted.
We chose to have Mom cremated, but decided to have a short open viewing at the funeral home for her grandchildren’s benefit. We wanted them to realize Grandma was no longer in her body.
This morning I was shocked to receive a phone call from the funeral parlor saying they have received a letter from one of Mom’s co-workers, expressing that she felt the viewing was disrespectful and in bad taste. Abby, we chose to display her body on a table with blankets. We didn’t think spending hundreds of dollars for a coffin for the four-hour viewing was justified, nor did we think Mom would have wanted us to do that. Was it inappropriate? — SLAPPED IN THE FACE IN MONTANA
DEAR SLAPPED IN THE FACE: There was nothing disrespectful or inappropriate about the way your ex-mother-in-law’s body was displayed. And you were wise not to spend a lot of money on a casket that was to be used only for a viewing.
I applaud your courage to do things differently. Please let that presumptuous woman’s criticism roll off your backs.
DEAR ABBY: I work for a nonprofit organization, and once a month we convene early in the morning for a staff meeting. To make up for the fact that we are meeting earlier than usual, departments take turns providing breakfast. This has turned into a contest to see who can bring the most elaborate breakfast.
Frankly, it’s all I can do to get breakfast on the table for my own family without the added pressure of having to provide something for my “work family.” The one-upmanship and back-stabbing is bad enough without having to become Martha Stewart in the process. Please comment. — EGGS-ASPERATED IN NEW YORK
DEAR EGGS-ASPERATED: I can see how something like that could get out of hand. Someone must break the cycle — so why not you? When your department’s turn rolls around, either order something you can pick up the night before or the morning of the meeting, or bring in fruit, granola and yogurt so your colleagues can have a healthy breakfast. And don’t apologize for it.
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.