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Dear Abby 7/4
Daughter chafes under strict control of suspicious mother
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    DEAR ABBY: I'm a high school student in the top 2 percent of my class. I'm heavily involved in extracurricular activities. I don't give my mom much to worry about, but she is always "concerned."
    She spies on me from the other room while I'm online and has recruited my brother to help her. She has forced me to give her the passwords to my e-mail and Myspace accounts and constantly asks me what I'm doing.
    When I'm in my room alone, she repeatedly comes in to ask me what's going on and says I'm not supposed to close my bedroom door. If I do, she will open it without knocking. Abby, even the bathroom door isn't permitted to be locked. If it is, Mom breaks in with a bobby pin, and I'm given the third degree. Nothing is sacred.
    Mom has looked for and read my diary. When I question her methods, she responds that she "doesn't want to argue about it."
    I have never given her any problems. Is she right to be concerned, or do I deserve better? Please help. I have nothing to myself. -- SPIED ON IN OHIO
    DEAR SPIED ON: While I'm all for conscientious parenting, it appears your mom as gone over the top. In her zeal to "protect" you — even from yourself — she is acting more like a prison matron than a mother. Because you have given her no grounds for her inability to trust you, I can only wonder what she did as a teen that has made her hyper-suspicious of you.
    Is your father in the picture? If so, talk to him about the situation. If not, ask a female relative or the mother of a friend to talk to your mother and explain that when this amount of control is exerted, all it accomplishes is driving the child away. I can't promise it will help her to get a grip, but it might.

    DEAR ABBY: Six years before my father was diagnosed with bone cancer, he suffered a severe stroke that left him barely able to communicate. He had always been extremely social, so his inability to talk had been hard on him, but the pain from the bone cancer made it far worse. He no longer enjoyed his favorite music and television shows, and he was frustrated by his inability to communicate. Even visits from loved ones didn't provide much comfort. We were at a loss as to how to ease his suffering and fears.
    Then my sister-in-law came up with a wonderful idea. She assembled a collage of pictures from Dad's life. Many were silly, candid shots that would make the average photographer cringe, but they were a visible record of the story of his life. He spent countless hours gazing at the collage with a faraway, happy expression on his face that let us know he was remembering happier times.
    After his death we moved the collage to a place of honor in my parents' home, where it continues to remind us all of the wonderful life that was my father's. I'm so grateful to my dear sister-in-law for her stroke of brilliance. It provided immeasurable comfort to Dad during his last days, and continues to bring joy to our family. Perhaps her creative idea will be helpful to others. -- VIRGINIA IN TUCSON
    DEAR VIRGINIA: I hope so. By summing up her father-in-law's life in that "pictorial essay," in a sense she gave back to him what his illness had stolen away. And I'm sure it brought him comfort. Thank you for sharing.
    CONFIDENTIAL TO MY READERS: Happy Fourth of July, everyone. And to my dear mother, Pauline Phillips, in Minneapolis — Happy 90th birthday, Mom. You're the one who caused all those fireworks!
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