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Publication: Dear Abby
Grandma's Term Of Endearment Is Not Appropriate For Toddler

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        ABBY - May 7, 2008 
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ABBY: My mother-in-law -- I'll call her "Irene" -- refers to 
our 3-year-old daughter, "Amber," as "sexy." When she buys 
clothing for Amber, she will say, "This is sexy." When Amber 
was younger and would pull up her dress in play, Irene would 
say, "Are you trying to be sexy?" Luckily, when it has 
happened, Amber either didn't hear or remember her comments.

I'm afraid if we don't put a stop to it, Irene will continue 
saying these things. Maybe she thinks it's cute, but I would 
like to keep my little girl innocent as long as I can. My 
husband agrees with me, but he's afraid of offending his
mother. Why would a grandmother call her young granddaughter 
"sexy"? Please advise. 

MOMMY: Your mother-in-law may have a limited vocabulary, or 
she may be projecting her adult feelings onto Amber -- not
realizing that children her granddaughter's age do not 
experience sexual feelings the way adults do.

Whatever Irene's reasoning, I agree that her comments are 
inappropriate, and she should be told to cut them out. With 
marketing, advertising and media the way they are today, 
your little girl will be bombarded with promotional messages 
in which sex is a sales tool before she hits kindergarten. 
She doesn't need to be sexually objectified by her grand-
mother, too.


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ABBY: "Frustrated in Colorado" (March 1) complained about 
people attempting to send faxes on her phone line. She 
should be thankful for a stable, busy job in a thriving 

Most fax machines today scan documents into memory and put 
them into an automated "queue" -- the same one that usually 
tries to transmit three times. I handle it by simply hitting 
the "transfer" button on my phone, so the call is routed to 
my fax line. Then I move on to other tasks. If you pass this 
on to her, it will relieve her frustration.

Tell her I said to "smile, have a nice day, and remember 
the words of Sgt. Joe Friday: 'It's just the fax, ma'am.'" 

LARRY: Thank you for the technical advice.

ABBY: I am a 17-year-old girl. My boyfriend and I are 
planning for a future together. We are seriously discussing 

My problem is, when I was 14, my older brother molested me. 
I eventually found the courage to tell my parents. They 
confronted him, he apologized, and we all got on with our 
lives. We haven't spoken about it since.

Should I tell my boyfriend about this? It has affected my 
life. I have trouble trusting people, and I feel this is 
something he needs to know. However, my brother and I get 
along well now. I don't want my boyfriend wanting to hurt 
my brother every time we have a family function. What 
should I do? 

TROUBLED: Although your brother has apologized and the 
subject hasn't been spoken about since, it has affected 
the way you perceive others. And the behavior your brother 
displayed when he molested you shows that -- at least at
that time in his life -- he had a lack of empathy for the 
feelings of others, namely you. 

You could benefit greatly by discussing what happened with 
a counselor who has expertise in sexual assault, and frankly, 
so could your brother. However, I see no reason to discuss 
what happened with your boyfriend until you become formally 
engaged, particularly because he might react in a volatile 

ABBY is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as 
Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline 
Phillips. Write ABBY at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box  
69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. 

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