DEAR ABBY: I am 13 and in eighth grade. I love my mom very much, but lately I’m worried about the things she makes me do for her. She takes me to the mall and makes me steal clothes, jewelry and household items.

I don’t want to disappoint my mom, but I’m afraid I’ll get caught and get in trouble with the law. What should I do? – SHOPLIFTING FOR MOM

What your mother is doing is a form of child abuse. You are a smart girl, and you can have a bright future. It will, however, become much harder for you if you are arrested for shoplifting. That is why I am urging you to talk about this with a counselor or trusted teacher at school. You need more help right now than anyone can give you in a letter. Please don’t put it off because I am worried about you.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, “Kirk,” and I have been married for 12 years. About a year ago we moved overseas because my husband is in the military. Before the move, Kirk was gone for a year, and I became very independent because I had to do everything myself. We had had some problems before, but since the move they have gotten worse.

We don’t talk or even stay in the same room for very long. Kirk treats me like a roommate and hasn’t touched me in more than a year. I have tried to talk to him about this, but all I get is, “I don’t know what I want.”

Abby, he makes it sound like it’s all my fault. To say the least, this causes me stress and I end up yelling at our kids, which isn’t fair to them. Please help me because I don’t know what to do. – UNHAPPY MILITARY WIFE

Your marriage is in serious trouble, and it won’t improve unless you and your husband can find a safe place in which you can communicate frankly and honestly. An excellent place to start would be by talking to the chaplain on the base where your husband is stationed. If your husband won’t go with you, then go alone.

DEAR ABBY: When I was 20 and in an abusive marriage, I had an affair with a much older man I’ll call “Ben.” Ben promised he would take me away from the pain, and we both left our respective partners.

Twenty years later, Ben’s ex-wife is still bitter about their divorce. Although Ben and I are no longer together, I feel the need to apologize to her for my role in ending their marriage. I admit I did some nasty things to her when she expressed her vindictiveness over the years.

I am now married with children and lead a very different life, and I’m ashamed of my behavior back then. I want to accept accountability for what I did and give her the chance to address me. I don’t think she will be receptive, but for her to still carry this anger 20 years later – and never to have remarried – validates that I have caused her much pain.

Should I write her, call her or just put it behind me once and for all? – REMORSEFUL IN GEORGIA

DEAR REMORESEFUL: If I understand you correctly, what you want is to lessen your guilt by letting this woman tell you how deeply hurt she was that you helped to destroy her marriage. I can see the benefit for YOU, but how will it benefit her besides dredging up all the pain and anger you caused her? Will it ease either one? I doubt it. Nor will it cause her to remarry or to think better of you.

Better to let the scab stay in place rather than pick at it and concentrate on finding another avenue for redeeming yourself.

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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