Dear Amy:

I have a daughter who is married and has a child with another child due soon.

They have been married for four years. They lived in an apartment until last year, when they built a large home.

When they lived in the apartment, my daughter always commented that her apartment was so messy because there was no room. Now she has a large house and it is worse than before. There are dirty dishes in most of the rooms, food on the floor, clothes everywhere and toys scattered throughout. She does not seem to want to clean or keep the house in a nice condition.

I cannot tell you when the last time was that she cleaned the house. She worries about insects and other pests getting in. I have told her that she needs to keep the house cleaner in order to avoid unwanted pests, but it does not seem to do any good.

People tell me that it is none of my business and if they want to live like that, then I need to let them. I am only concerned for my grandson and for them having problems with their house.

I am looking for suggestions to motivate my daughter to clean up a little better.

Her husband works and then comes home to cook the meals.

Concerned Mom

There are a number of factors that could contribute to your daughter's messy habits. She could be depressed and/or overwhelmed by family life. Studies have established a connection between people who have ADHD and "hoarding" behavior, so treatment for ADHD can help hoarders control their problem.

Your daughter's housecleaning isn't likely to improve once she has her second baby. Perhaps she would be open to having someone come in to help with the cleaning. Having cleaning help even twice a month would help her get a handle on the house.

You could help out by offering to do the cleaning yourself, or by paying for some sessions of cleaning help, as a gift.

Otherwise, you might point your daughter toward The "FlyLady" shares common-sense cleaning and folksy organizing tips, meant for people who are overwhelmed and don't know where or how to start cleaning.

Dear Amy:

I am a 12-year-old student, and I need some help.

Last night I got onto my Instant Message account, and some people started to talk to me.

My problem is that while they were talking to me they were using very sexually explicit dialogue that I found offensive.

I told them to go away, but they kept coming back.

What should I do?

Troubled IM User

Remember the rule you learned in elementary school?

"Never talk to strangers."

"Never talk to strangers" applies whether you're online at your computer, or in line at the mall.

Pretend you're at the mall and people come up to you and say strange and offensive things. What do you do? You find an adult and tell, right?

That's what you should do now. Find an adult, and point this out. The solution may be as simple as adjusting the settings on your computer so that you only hear from people on your "buddy list."

Never correspond with strangers online -- even to tell them to stop doing what they are doing. (They see that as an invitation to "chat.") Obviously, never provide any personal information to anyone on the Web, even if they act as if they know you. Just shut down your system until you have corrected the problem.

A resource for you and your parents that will help guide you is suggests strategies for coping with this, as well as a way to report online predators.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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