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Ok, I've read "Dear Abby" on and off over the years since I first learned about her column. Normally I would tend to agree with rare times of thinking she was mistaken. That was when one person was doing it. Now that the daughter has taken over, I find myself wondering where the new "Dear Abby" is living and what rules she is living by.


Take this letter, for example:

DEAR ABBY: My 9-year-old stepson, "Bryan," is turning into a feminine little boy. He knows all about girly products and what is on sale at the mall. Bryan's mother treats him like a baby. All they do at their house is sit around and watch TV. She has no friends, and neither does Bryan. He does not get involved with anything; he is exactly like his mother.


When Bryan is at our house, we try to get him involved in activities, but the boy is lazy and doesn't want to participate. Then he tells his mother that his father yells at him. My husband does yell, but only to get Bryan off his butt to do something. The result is Bryan wants to spend very little time with us because of his mother's constant babying. At our house, he has chores and we make him help with things. At her house, she does everything for him.


How can we make Bryan less feminine and involve him with friends and activities? -- "WICKED" STEPMOM IN PENNSYLVANIA


DEAR STEPMOM: It is a parent's job to help a child be the best that he (or she) can be. That does not mean the father remaking the child in his own image, and that may be what the boy is resisting. Bryan is not particularly "masculine," and he's not interested in what you and your husband are trying to force him into. Your insistence on trying to make him fit your mold may be what is driving him away.


Instead of yelling at him to get him "off his butt," if you need his help with chores, say exactly that. ("Bryan, I need your help with something.") And since he isn't interested in the usual "boy things," perhaps it's time you and your husband expose the boy to art, music, dance, to see what does turn him on.


If none of the above does the trick, then some professional counseling for the three of you to establish a healthier level of communication is in order. You may be able to help Bryan be more social, but don't count on changing the core of who he is.


What is "Abby" thinking?!? That kid is being taught to be lazy and to only sit and watch TV for fun. That is unheathly for the child and is a form of abuse/neglect. Trying to get him involved in activities is a very smart idea, regardless of what they are. She should have skipped the "let the mom corrupt the child" bit of advice and said for the father to consider seeking custody. Then they could limit the tv viewing and once the kid learns to pick and choose a limited number of shows to watch, he'll find other things to do during the other times. If the kid does girly things, oh well. But gosh, talk about missing an obvious problem.


Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

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Yes, I have some thoughts on this. Some are not appropriate for this forum, though.


What's this about art, music, and dance not being 'boy things?' What is a 'boy thing?' Playing football? Bashing each other over the head with heavy objects? If those are considered 'boy things,' go ahead and consider me 'feminine.'

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