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Dear Abby 3/24
Kids' first names are not always the first to be used
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DEAR ABBY: I work in a public library, where I deal with a lot of children and process many library card applications. I have a question for today's parents and was wondering if your readers would respond.
    Why do so many parents give their children first names they don't like to be used? At least once a week, I run into a parent who, when I call her child "Mary," will get angry and snap, "We don't call her that!" and order me to call the child by his or her middle name or some completely different name. I mean, if you don't like the name or don't want your kid to be called that, why give them that name?
    I understand with older kids it can be a matter of choice, or with "Juniors" and others, it's a way to distinguish a father from a son. But this happens too often, and I dislike being snapped at because I called their son or daughter by his or her first name. So why is it such a common practice? -- CONFUZZLED IN FLORIDA
    DEAR CONFUZZLED: I'm sure my readers will gladly chime in, but I have a hunch that many of them will tell you that their children were named to honor deceased parents, grandparents or other relatives despite the fact that those names may no longer be in "vogue." And that's why their child is called by a middle name or nickname.
    However, the parents you describe are rude and abusive. Rather than snapping at you, they should have their children's library cards issued in the name the child uses.

    DEAR ABBY: Twelve years ago, when I was in high school, I made friends with a girl who had just come from Europe. (I'll call her Cheri.) We became close friends and did the usual high school things together.
    I was the first of our group to be married and asked Cheri and several other girlfriends to be my bridesmaids. All went nicely. I soon had a baby, and I asked Cheri to be the godmother to my daughter, which she accepted.
    A year later, Cheri became engaged and asked me to stand up for her at her wedding. By that time I had two little ones, my husband was earning an hourly wage and money was tight. I leveled with her and told her I didn't have the money to buy a bridesmaid's dress. Cheri was hurt and asked her sister to do the honors. I wasn't even invited to the wedding.
    Now I'm thinking about the friendship we once had, and I miss it. Was I wrong to be truthful about my money situation, or should I have gone into debt to buy the necessary bridesmaid's apparel? -- WONDERING IN OHIO
    DEAR WONDERING: You did the right thing in telling your friend the truth that buying the bridesmaid's dress was beyond your means. Considering the circumstances, it would have been foolish to go into debt. I can understand Cheri's disappointment, but she reacted like a spoiled child. ("If you don't do what I want, you can't come to my party!")
    Because you miss her, give her a call and see if she has grown up by now.

    DEAR ABBY: I have a 4-year-old sister who drinks a lot of beer. My dad lets her drink it. What should I do? -- BIG SISTER IN SANTA MARIA, CALIF.
    DEAR BIG SISTER: You appear to have more common sense than your father, who apparently does not realize that when children drink alcohol they can more easily become dependent upon it than adults. Because your father is not likely to stop if you tell him that giving liquor to a child is wrong, you should tell a trusted teacher at school what you have told me. The teacher can see to it that your father recognizes the error of his ways.
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