Dear Abby:

I am an almost-14-year-old boy in Iowa. My father thinks my hair is too long and says I should get a summer cut -- short like his, of course. The reason, according to my mom, is adults have said how bad my hair looks. I believe if they're going to be so rude as to say that to my mom, I should keep it long to keep them mad.

I get the feeling that my dad is afraid, as a physician, that it's hurting his reputation.

Abby, I'm a good kid. I get straight A's. I'm involved in many constructive activities, and my hair is just a little over my ears, almost touching my T-shirt collar in the back, and my bangs are brushed to the side. Who's right here?

Irritated in Iowa

You appear to be intelligent and a high achiever. Please don't let a power struggle over the length of your hair ruin your summer. A compromise may be in order. Take a long, hard look in the mirror. If a number of people have said your hair looks "bad," perhaps it could be shaped -- a little -- into something less shaggy and more flattering. If you're afraid your dad's barber might scalp you, consider consulting your mother's hairdresser.

Where I live, it's common to see males in beauty salons because their girlfriends, wives or mothers have sent them there.

Dear Abby:

Every year, on my in-laws' birthdays, I prepare a beautiful dinner, bake or purchase a decorated cake and buy them a nice gift. My parents do the same for my husband.

When my birthday comes, my in-laws acknowledge it with only a card.

My husband has talked to them about it (they are well off financially and could afford to take us out for dinner if his mom doesn't want to cook), but they feel that a card is adequate. They say, "People shouldn't do things for others because they expect something back."

Am I wrong to expect some kind of reciprocation? Frankly, I'm hurt.

Slighted in Missouri

Your feelings are justified. Although I agree that people should not do things for others because they expect something back, by putting forth no effort on your birthday, they are sending the message that they haven't accepted you as a daughter. Perhaps when their next birthdays roll around, their son should be the one to prepare the dinner, make sure there's a birthday cake and purchase their gift. If he remembers, that is.

Dear Abby:

I am planning a small, intimate wedding this summer. Most of our guests will be family and very close friends.

My mother asked me to invite a longtime friend and co- worker. We sent the woman a save-the-date card. When mother saw her the next day at work, the friend said she would be happy to attend -- if she didn't have a "band gig." Mother felt embarrassed and slighted. She would now like to start working from home to avoid this person and has asked me not to send an invitation. What should I do?

Soon-to-Be Bride in Virginia

Since the co-worker has indicated that if a job comes up she might be absent, take the hint and don't send the invitation. Better that she was honest in advance about the fact she might be able to attend, rather than being a no-show.

P.S. Although your mother is disappointed, she should not let her co-worker's reaction spoil a warm workplace relationship. Avoiding the woman is not the answer. Forgiving her and moving on is.

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