Dear Abby:

I am an African-American reader, and as a young black woman I am fed up with the images of young women in our music videos of today. We are displayed as sex objects, and those images are imprinted into the minds of our young children. Boys think that girls are supposed to be treated the way rappers and singers treat women in the videos, and young girls think the only way to secure male attention is by being half-naked.

We, as women, are losing our sense of self-respect. We should take pride in our minds, not just our bodies.

Should we blame ourselves for participating in such videos, for allowing our young boys and girls to watch this on TV, or for not protesting?

I feel so overwhelmed. Who do we blame? Where does it end? How do we stop this?

Not Just Breasts and Thighs in Baltimore

Don't get caught up in the blame game. I agree that people -- not just women -- should take pride in their minds and not just their bodies. One important way to accomplish this is to stress to children that what is on television is, for the most part, meant to be entertainment -- not an accurate reflection of life. Children need to understand that as glamorous as life seems to be in the music videos, the REAL road to success lies in getting a good education and learning to respect themselves and others.

Dear Abby:

I'm about to be married for the second time. My parents love my fiance, "Greg," unlike my first husband whom they despised. We spend a lot of time with my parents. Greg and my father get along extremely well. The wedding is this month. We have planned a cruise for our honeymoon.

We have invited my parents to join us on the cruise because their anniversary is this month, and they have never been on a cruise. My parents thought it was a wonderful idea.

Now, however, they are wavering about whether to go because my younger sister has told Mother she doesn't want them to go, and she doesn't understand why we would invite them on our honeymoon in the first place! I am very angry and upset that they would consider changing their plans in order to make my sister happy. Should I confront her about her jealousy? Why would she deliberately sabotage our relationship with the folks when things between us are so great?

Bride-to-Be in Raleigh, N.C.

Because your sister is insecure. She views you and your fiance's relationship as threatening to her position in the family structure. Confronting her about her jealousy and insecurity will only fan the flames. It is your parents who must stand their ground and refuse to be manipulated out of the trip of a lifetime. Your sister is out of line, and your parents must be strong enough to lovingly, but firmly, put her in her place.

Dear Abby:

I work in a busy office where I meet and interview clients. Last week, while meeting with a couple -- who were prospective clients -- the man began admiring my display of family photographs. To my surprise, he picked up the portrait of my husband, showed it to his wife, and said, "Look, there's Michael, Kathy's boyfriend!" (Kathy is the man's sister.)

Abby, he knew my husband's name, the name of my husband's best friend and where he lives. When I asked Michael about it, he said he didn't know any girl named Kathy. I want to believe Michael, but I cannot understand why a couple would go to such great lengths to be as cruel as they were to me. Michael and I have no known enemies and have had a very committed marriage for 13 years. What do you make of this?

Puzzled in Florida

What happened had to be a terrible shock. My first reaction is that you are in denial. The couple you were interviewing knew too many precise details to be faking. It's time you look further and do some fact-checking.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2002, Universal Press Syndicate