DEAR ABBY: I am 19, female, smart, responsible and friendly. I also have a terrible fear of driving. I have read driving manuals, but I’m scared to be in control of a big vehicle with so many other vehicles on the road.

I always found an excuse not to sign up for driver’s ed in high school, and have refused countless offers from friends and family to teach me. My response was always, “No, I’m not ready.”

All my younger relatives have driver’s licenses, and I do feel I am missing out on things. How do I overcome this fear? Do I just say yes to my friends or family when they offer again? Please tell me what to do. – NON-DRIVER IN MASSACHUSETTS

Having the fear of driving that you do, you should not get behind the wheel of a car until you have first consulted a professional counselor who specializes in helping people with phobias. My concern is that you might overreact out of fear and cause an accident.

Once you have mastered your fear, then who should teach you is up to you. However, I am recommending you learn from a professional driving instructor. It will be safer for all concerned.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to have a relationship with my granddaughter, “Zoe,” who is 10. My son refuses to have anything to do with her. He was 16 when he got his girlfriend pregnant. He is now 26 and married, with a 9- month-old child. His wife won’t have any part of his little girl.

Should I step in and be a grandmother, even if my son and daughter-in-law may never talk to me again? Zoe doesn’t even know her father. Why can’t I give her the love she deserves? She’s the innocent one. Am I wrong? – YEARNING TO KNOW HER IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR YEARNING TO KNOW HER: No, you are right. You can give Zoe the love and attention she deserves if you refuse to allow your son and daughter-in-law to blackmail you. I’m sure the girl would appreciate knowing that someone from her father’s side of the family thinks she’s worth getting to know.

It’s shameful that your son blames her for an incident that he’d rather forget, and frankly, it reflects poorly on him. However, while you can’t control his behavior, you can control the way you react to it. Do what you think is right.

DEAR ABBY: Please say something to the clueless herd who have never been taught not to ask personal questions.

I have been asked everything – my age, weight, height, income, religion and what I paid for everything I own. I was once even asked if I had ever had serious marital problems.

Are people not taught common manners anymore? Everyone who asked me was well over 21 and should have known better. Please tell people how ignorant they sound, and how dumbfounded polite people can be when this situation comes up.

Oh! And while you’re at it, please tell them to keep the details of their sex lives to themselves. – HORRIFIED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR HORRIFIED: To get to the heart of your letter – your question about whether people are taught common manners anymore – the answer, sadly, is no, very often they are not.

For anyone who is not aware, the questions listed in paragraph two of “Horrified’s” letter are all off-limits as being overly personal. And unless someone is confiding in a trusted friend, to describe the details of one’s sex life can be extremely embarrassing to the listener.

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.

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