Dear Abby:

I'm the mother of two sons who are as different as night and day. My 27-year-old, "Ken," has lots of issues and drama. Our relationship has always been rocky. Nothing I have ever done has been good enough.

Ken calls me on the phone and calls me names. I have gone through years of therapy and am doing pretty well, but when I have contact with him I regress 13 years.

We hadn't spoken since Christmas because I stopped answering the phone when he called. However, last night I did pick up. Our conversation started out well, but it peaked to a horrible yelling contest. Ken called me terrible names and blamed me for everything bad that has happened in his life.

I love Ken, but I don't like him. Is there a way a parent can cut the apron strings? What kind of impact would that have on him? I go to church and sit alone and pray. It gives me some relief. But when he calls, it starts all over again. What is a mother to do?

Grieving in Texas

You say that you have had counseling. Has your son? If the answer is no, urge him to get some and get his life in order. Should he refuse, make it plain that you will no longer tolerate his verbal abuse and again screen your calls. The longer you allow your son to cause you pain, the longer he will do it. He's an adult, and you have suffered enough.

Dear Abby:

My son was invited to a birthday party. When I called the mom to RSVP, I asked her what kind of toys her son was interested in. She replied that it was rude to ask what to buy him, and to just buy him "something suitable for a boy."

Abby, I wasn't trying to be rude. I just thought that if I was going to purchase a gift for the child, I ought to know what he was interested in so I wouldn't buy him something he wouldn't use.

Was I rude to ask the question? I shall think twice about asking again.

Anonymous in Canada

The mother was wrong to chastise you. Not only do I not think you were rude to ask the question, but I think it was intelligent of you to ask.Dear Readers:

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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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

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