Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dear Abby:

I'm a junior in college, but I don't feel like one. I am still afraid of my parents. My mom and dad never physically abused me or my brothers, but they were verbally abusive. They had a tough life, married young, and had my older brother and me while they were in their early twenties. They are now in their mid-forties and they still hate each other.

I get phone calls from home every day asking me where I am and what have I done, and if Mom doesn't like what I say, she hangs up and a few minutes later Dad calls to curse me out for "upsetting Mom" because she calls to harass him at work.

I am not going home this summer. I don't think of their house as a home. I have been in therapy for the past two years without telling them. I support myself and pay for my own schooling. The only thing I don't pay for is $200 a month for car insurance.

Abby, I love my parents, but I'm kept a virtual prisoner when I'm at home, and I'm physically ill from being harassed when I'm at school. Please print this; maybe one of them will read it.

Shaking Son in the Bronx

It's time to reorganize your priorities. If the only thing that's making you tolerate this situation is the fact that your father is paying your car insurance, you might be better off not driving for a while. For your own mental health, cut not only the umbilical cord with your mother, but also the telephone cord. And because after two years of therapy, you continue to tolerate the treatment you're getting from your parents, please consider changing therapists.

Dear Abby:

What are the rules of etiquette for hand-shaking between men and women? Is it proper when a woman extends her hand to a man for him to offer his left hand to shake? Or is this some backhanded insult?

I am involved in receiving lines and have had this happen many times. They always offer their right hand to the next man in line. Should I take this as an insult, or do these men just not know how to act properly?

In a Quandary in Mississippi

A person who looks hard enough for an insult is sure to find one, so I recommend against it. It has been my experience that people who offer their left hand to shake often have a physical problem of some sort such as a sprain or arthritis. You can't go wrong to smile, be charming, and deal with the hand you're dealt.

Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

2005Universal Press Syndicate

© 2005 The Washington Post Company