DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother raising a 15-year-old son. For most of his life it has just been the two of us. I now regret that I put him in bed with me when he was a baby. As he grew older, I encouraged him to sleep in his own bed, but it would last only a few nights, and then he would sneak back into my room.
I was married for three years when he was around 11, and he'd sneak into my husband's and my bedroom after we were asleep and sleep on a couch in there.
His problem is he is terrified of the dark and believes in ghosts, monsters, etc. He says he has a phobia and I believe him. I tried getting a dog for him to sleep with and night-lights, but nothing worked. If I lock him out, he lays awake all night, scared to death.
I kept thinking he would grow out of this, but he hasn't. Please help. I can't really afford therapy, but if you think he needs it, I will try.
- Troubled in Arizona
DEAR TROUBLED: Some sessions with a psychologist who specializes in phobias would be the quickest way to help your son overcome his problem. And when you consult with one, I am sure the therapist will recommend that your son stay away from violent video games and movies or television shows that feature ghosts, monsters or anything else that goes "bump" in the dark, because they could only increase his fears.
DEAR ABBY: I'm different from other girls. I don't wear girly clothes. I prefer dark clothes and makeup. My mom thinks I'm strange because I dress differently. Do you think I look like a freak for not conforming, or is there nothing wrong with being different?
- Different in Washington
DEAR DIFFERENT: I would never call you a "freak" because of your attire. It is common for young people to express their individuality by their dress, hairstyle and makeup. There is, however, a point when a person's style choices can be limiting. My question for you would be: Are you getting the kind of attention you want from presenting yourself this way? The answer should determine how you choose to dress.