Dear Abby: My 12-year-old niece "Tammy" is very shy. When I recently visited my brother's home, she hid in her parents' bedroom behind a closed door. She wouldn't come out to say hi or even speak to me through the door.
Today I was on the phone with my sister-in-law and I asked if I could say hello to Tammy. I was told Tammy had left the room because she didn't want to talk. My sister-in- law then remarked that she has the shiest kids on Earth.
I think Tammy's parents should MAKE her speak to me (or anyone else) in person or on the phone. Am I wrong? —OUTGOING AUNT
Dear Outgoing Aunt: Tammy's behavior is rude, and her mother is covering for her. If Tammy has such overwhelming social anxiety that she cannot exchange even the briefest social amenities, she needs the help of a therapist to help her overcome it.
Dear Abby: I have worked in a medical office for a number of years. We all get along like a family and there are rarely any problems. However, something has been bothering me since one of my co-workers' (unmarried) daughter had a baby.
We all bought gifts for the baby and tolerate the many pictures and recitation of day-to-day events of the baby, but now the first birthday is here. I received an invitation and was told what they would like to receive, plus a wallet photo of the child and a larger photo with a magnet on it.
Many of us have grandchildren, but we have never gone overboard this way. I would never impose an invitation on my co-workers to attend any of my grandchildren's birthday parties. My feeling is that grandchildren parties are for families! What to do? —FRETTING
Dear Fretting: Fret no more. Politely decline the invitation and say you have other plans. (You do — you plan not to attend or be milked for a gift.) Stand firm now, because if you don't, you will be invited to every birthday party the kid has until he or she is an adult.
Dear Abby: We are progressive parents, but conservative about social issues. We have a problem on which we disagree and we have agreed to abide by your answer.
Our three children are all in high school. Our older daughter has a good friend — a boy who is gay. We like him very much and he has visited our home many times. However, our daughter would like to invite him to a sleepover, as she does with her girlfriends.
Is it appropriate for a teenage girl to have a gay boyfriend on a sleepover? —PUZZLED PARENTS IN THE NORTHWEST
Dear Puzzled Parents: I see no reason why an "out" gay teenage boy shouldn't attend your daughter's sleepover. Their relationship is the same as the ones she has with her girlfriends.