DEAR ABBY: From time to time you ask readers to share their pet peeves. I hope you will allow me to air mine. I am a family therapist.

What makes me want to hit my head against the wall when I go home some nights is parents who would rather bail their child out of trouble than put in the time in advance to assure that the child gets the help he or she needs. I see it happen repeatedly.

You seem to have an answer for everything. What do these parents think will happen when the “child” reaches middle age and there are no more excuses left? I challenge you to answer that one. – BURNED OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to your question. Some parents tolerate their children’s repeated misbehavior because they refuse to admit that their child could be flawed. Others are so involved in their own lives that they would rather throw money at a problem than make tougher, more demanding choices. The outcome is predictable, but they’re not thinking ahead.

Which brings me back to you: If you are truly ready to “hit your head against a wall” at the end of your workday, please consider this: Sometimes it TAKES a therapist to HELP a therapist. Find one before you truly burn out. To paraphrase a pearl of wisdom attributed to Henry Kissinger: “A problem ignored is a crisis invited.”

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating “Charlie” for a year. We are going to move in together at the end of the month. Charlie is thoughtful and sweet, and for the first time in my life, I feel I can be totally myself around a man.

Last night, I had my feet propped up on his book bag and the bag fell open. I looked down and saw a pair of black women’s panties in the style that he has been badgering me to wear. Next to them were two DVDs with pornographic pictures on the front. I was horrified.

I have trusted Charlie because he really doesn’t have time to cheat on me. But why would he carry around another girl’s underwear?

Abby, I can’t think straight right now. I don’t want to make a mistake, and I have no idea what to do. Please help. – SCARED TO MOVE IN NEW YORK

Ask Charlie to whom the underwear belongs. They could be for you, they could be a souvenir – or they could be his. The only way to find out is to ask.

DEAR ABBY: Since I was 10, I’ve had a crush on my neighbor, “Chad.” He’s three years older than me. Sometimes we say “Hi” to each other, and other times he doesn’t notice me. When I walk real slow past his house, I can feel him looking at me.

My dream is to ask Chad to my senior prom next spring. Can you give me some advice? – LOVE-STRUCK IN SANTA MONICA, CALIF.

The next time you stroll past Chad’s house and catch him outside, stop and chat with him. You have changed a great deal since you were 10. By Christmas you may have established a relationship, and if you have, make a New Year’s resolution to ask him to the prom by March. If he’s available, that’s plenty of notice. If he’s not, there’s still time to ask someone else.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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