DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old, happily married girl, but I have a problem. My 15-year-old cousin “Rayleen” likes my husband. She calls his cell phone at all hours of the night, and last week she sent him a letter telling him that I was cheating on him (a lie!) and that when he decides to get a divorce from me, if he wants a “real woman” to give her a call.

Rayleen has always had a thing for older men, but this time she has just gone too far. I know my husband loves me and would never believe her, but I’m not sure how to tell my cousin to stop. I don’t want to be mean, but she can’t have him. – FURIOUS IN ALABAMA

It appears that no one ever taught your hormonal cousin that there are boundaries that should not be crossed. You should not be the person telling Rayleen to cool off and face reality. That message should come from your husband, as he tells her to stop calling and stop writing nasty letters because he already has a real woman – his wife.

P.S. And the letter should be turned over to Rayleen’s mother because right now your cousin needs some parenting a lot worse than she needs a man.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 23-year-old guy who, due to money problems, credit card bills and student loans, recently moved back with my parents. Before I moved in they made me agree to a written contract that included no drinking, no smoking of any kind, a midnight curfew, getting a job and stating that once I move out I can’t move back in again.

I get what they’re trying to do, but I feel like they are treating me like a child. I only agreed to the terms because I was desperate.

I have abided by all the rules, but they still are suspicious of me breaking the contract after five months under their roof. I want to move out, but I am still unable to do so. What can I do to make this situation better? – DESPERATE IN ARIZONA

Your parents may have insisted on the stipulations of the contract because of something that happened before you first moved out on your own. Because they feel strongly about drinking, smoking and the curfew, the best advice I can offer is to obey the rules, avoid arguments and save your money until you can earn enough to become independent again.

DEAR ABBY: With the economic problems so many people are having, I thought I’d share a holiday gift suggestion with you.

Years ago, I realized my nephew was receiving more toys than he could ever enjoy, so I gave him a Christmas ornament instead. He was only 5 or 6 at the time, so I’m not sure he really appreciated it then. However, as more nieces and nephews came along, I continued the tradition of giving them ornaments.

They all grew to treasure their personal ornaments and took great delight in having something of their own to hang on the tree each year. – DAVID S. IN MINNEAPOLIS

DEAR DAVID S.: Thank you for sharing a wonderful idea. I’m sure that now your nieces and nephews are grown, hanging those ornaments on their own trees has special significance.

I knew a woman years ago who used to craft gorgeous Christmas tree ornaments using Styrofoam balls decorated with ribbons, sequins and beads. They were special not only because of the love and work she put into them, but also because they were entirely unique.

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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