DEAR ABBY: My 25-year-old son, "Mark," lives at home, has a full-time job and dates a girl, "Julia," who is a minister's daughter. He keeps bringing her to our home on occasions when she's "sick" or needs to catch an early flight and he needs to drive her to the airport. They are seeing only each other.
Julia is in pre-med and Mark thinks she's wonderful and smart. Abby, when she's here, she holes up in his room and never comes out. She's as quiet as a mouse. I am boisterous, and I get the feeling I turn her off.
The last time she stayed over was before an out-of-state interview Mark was driving her to. Abby, she never even said hello or goodbye. He made her breakfast in bed, and they sat there laughing and eating with the door shut.
When she visits she stays down in our den and ignores the rest of us the entire time, as does Mark. After the holidays, she left without wishing us "Happy Holidays" or even giving us a card. I had a present for her, but didn't give it to her because I decided I wouldn't go out of my way for a person who ignores me.
I want my son to move out. I do not want this girl sleeping over or staying under my roof anymore. I don't like her. What should I do? My mother says I should put my foot down and send my grown son out the door. She says I need to grow a spine, but I'm afraid! -- MAMA IN OHIO
DEAR MAMA: You are dealing with two separate issues. Your son is seriously involved with a girl who either never learned basic good manners or who may be pathologically shy. You and your husband should talk privately with Mark and find out exactly what her problem is. You also need to establish some ground rules for when she visits, so you don't feel shut out under your own roof.
Adult "children" live with their parents for various reasons. Some can't afford to live independently; others are trying to save money to buy a home of their own. I don't know Mark's reason and neither will you if you don't address this with him.
Your mother may be right. It may be time for him to move. But what concerns me about what has been going on is the lack of communication and a certain lack of respect. And nothing will change unless you and your husband insist upon it.
DEAR ABBY: This year my school started an international program, so we have students from around the world who attend school with us. I'd like to learn about their countries and invite them to the youth group I attend, but I'm nervous about talking to them and don't think I could work up the nerve. I'm also worried about what they will think of me. What should I say and do? -- APPREHENSIVE IN INDIANA
DEAR APPREHENSIVE: Please don't be afraid to reach out. Put yourself in those students' shoes. If you were in a strange school in a foreign country, wouldn't you be glad if someone approached you and introduced himself or herself and invited you to an activity, or to their home for dinner? All you need to do is smile and say, "Hi, I'm --." If you do, you could start a lifelong friendship and expand your horizons further than you could ever dream.
DEAR ABBY: Is it acceptable for one adult to correct another's English unless asked to do so?
My sister does it frequently, and I want to know if it's rude so I don't make the same blunder. -- GRAMMATICALLY YOURS IN NEW ORLEANS
DEAR GRAMMATICALLY YOURS: It isn't rude if it is done tactfully, in private and in the spirit of being helpful. If it's done as a form of one-upmanship, it is obnoxious.
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, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)