Dear Abby: My wife and I disagree about how to handle a problem with our 6-year-old daughter, "Emily," who has not been practicing her piano lessons as diligently as we would like. After her last lesson, I told my wife that I didn't think Emily did very well.
Dear At Odds: Piano practice should not be turned into a power struggle. Denying food to a child who is hungry is not, in my opinion, appropriate. What Emily may need is help from you and/or her mother to structure her schedule so there's enough time for music practice.
Dear Abby: Nine years ago I had reconstructive facial surgery to repair a botched nose job. It changed the way I look. My nose was fixed, but it left my upper lip very stiff, and when I talk it can be distracting to others. My children and my husband are fine with it, but my mother and brother have a hard time looking at and socializing with me.
Over the past nine years some hurtful things have happened. I was in church one Sunday and overheard my brother say laughingly, "I can't believe how she looks." Mom told him, "You'd better contain yourself." Once, when my sister-in-law was holding her year-old daughter, I was smiling and talking to the baby. My sister-in-law said to her, "You don't even know what you're looking at, do you?"
Abby, sometimes I catch my mother shaking her head in disbelief over my appearance. I asked my brother for the name of his doctor for my daughter, and he told me to use my own doctor. The incidents go on and on.
DEAR HURT: You are entitled to spend your time with people who love you, respect you and enjoy having you around. From what you have related, the dysfunction in your family may go beyond the circumstances of your unfortunate nose job and reconstructive surgery.
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.