DEAR ABBY: My 16-year-old stepson has problems getting up for school on time. My wife and I are split on what we should do about it.

I maintain that he’s old enough to be responsible for getting himself up for school and should suffer the consequences if he’s late. She thinks I should get him up. She works the late shift, which means I have to call him several times before he actually gets up. What do you think? – STEPDAD IN WEST VIRGINIA

If your stepson is having trouble prying himself out of bed in the mornings, it may be that he’s not getting enough sleep and should go to bed earlier. And your wife needs to consider what will happen to him when you are no longer around to extract her son from between the sheets. That’s why it’s important to start training him NOW.

Buy a clock with a loud, annoying alarm, which should be placed in the farthest corner of his room from the bed, which will force him to get up in order to turn the darned thing off.

DEAR ABBY: Last summer, I cringed when I saw a neighbor cutting his lawn with a push mower and allowing his 3-year-old son to walk behind the mower to “help” him push. All the while, the mother stood nearby, smiling at the “father-and-son moment.”

A few days later, I saw an 8-year-old boy cutting his lawn with a riding mower, with no adult in sight.

Abby, please remind parents that a lawn mower is a powerful, potentially dangerous machine. According to a study published in a children’s medical journal, more than 9,000 children are injured by lawn mowers each year. Not only is there the obvious danger of the mower blades, children can also suffer severe burns from touching hot mower parts. In addition, projectiles can fly backward and cut or blind a child should a mower strike an object.

When the lawn mower is operating, the proper place for children is inside the house. – CONCERNED NEIGHBOR, DUNWOODY, GA.

Thank you for the timely reminder. Sometimes the most innocent of actions can have unintended consequences. Spring has sprung, bringing with it all the joys – and chores – of the “growing” season. When a lawn mower is running, children – and pets – should not be in the vicinity.

DEAR ABBY: With the passing of our parents, as well as childless aunts and uncles, my husband and I have accumulated many special items such as an old family Bible, military memorabilia, photos of pets, etc.

Our departed dear ones are missed and loved, but we don’t know what to do with a lot of these things. It feels disrespectful not to keep them. Have you any suggestions on how we can relieve the clutter as well as the guilt – and feel OK about it? – CLUTTERED BUT CARING IN WASHINGTON

DEAR CLUTTERED BUT CARING: Although you have been blessed to be the repository of so many family keepsakes, sometimes an overabundance of “things” can become a burden. When that happens, it’s time to take stock and share some of the items with others who can appreciate them.

The Bible and photos should be offered to your state historical society. The military memorabilia could prove to be valuable if you have it appraised by someone who deals in it. The rest could be placed for sale in a consignment store or thrift shop.

Please don’t feel guilty about it. It’s actually an act of generosity.

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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