Dear Abby:

I have read your column for years and usually agree wholeheartedly with your advice. However, I was stunned to read your reply to "On the Spot" in New Jersey, who chose not to invite her neighbor's 8- and 6-year-old children to her son's bar mitzvah.

Yes, it's true that children are invited to bar mitzvahs. But in this case, the neighbor's children are not family and are too young to be playmates of the bar mitzvah boy. The parents are within their rights to exclude these children from the guest list, especially when the cost of additional guests is taken into consideration. Furthermore, it was rude of the invitees to RSVP that their uninvited children would attend.

Linda M., Rockville

You're right -- I goofed. My readers were quick to set me straight. Read on:

Dear Abby:

I am 14 and recently had a bat mitzvah myself. I understand the situation. This was a challenge for our family, too.

Abby, these affairs are expensive, and it is not always affordable to include kids who are not close to the family. Also, young children can't sit through a three-hour service. That mother should discuss the situation with her neighbors and tell them that due to budget and space restrictions, the number of guests is limited.

Ashley S., Fountain Valley, Calif.

Where were you when I needed you?

Dear Abby:

The bottom line is, it takes "chutzpah" to include uninvited children.

Sue K., West Orange, N.J.

It also takes a lot of nerve or gall ("chutzpah") to bring uninvited guests to weddings, anniversaries and other invitation-only events. However, if my mail is an indicator, chutzpah is one commodity that's never in short supply.

Dear Abby:

I am a 20-year-old, single college student. I live on my own and work two jobs in order to make ends meet. I recently told my dad I want to move back home, because working two jobs and going to school is wearing me out -- not to mention reflecting badly on my grades. My dad is very excited at the prospect.

The reason I moved out was my stepmother. I can't stand her. She is very controlling, and we have never gotten along. I have tried to make peace with her since I left, but she is still the same. She tells me what time I should be home at night when I go out with my friends!

Abby, at this point I am used to being on my own and not having to account to anyone for my time. How am I going to make this drastic change?

Troubled in Tennessee

By gritting your teeth and recognizing that there's no free lunch. Instead of paying rent for a roof over your head, you will be sacrificing some of your freedom. Once you accept that this is an exchange -- and that it will help you achieve a goal -- you'll adapt. However, if you can't accept the terms, I advise you to stay where you are, because moving back will only cause aggravation for all concerned.

P.S. Your stepmother's insistence on a curfew may have to do with not wanting to be worried about you until all hours nor be awakened in the middle of the night.

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)2004, Universal Press Syndicate