DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old girl. Recently I made a new friend, “Mandy,” and confided to her about my dark past of depression. When I explained how I used to cut myself, she burst into tears and told me she had cut herself the day before. I didn’t expect that response.
I know from experience that what Mandy is doing is not a good way to handle things. What stopped me from cutting was getting a permanent scar from it. Although plenty of people told me that cutting was no way to deal with my pain, the only one I listened to in the end was myself.
I really want Mandy to stop. I told her not to do it, but I’m afraid she will anyway. She’s an amazing person, and she doesn’t deserve the pain she is causing herself. How can I help her? — BEEN THERE IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR BEEN THERE: Continue encouraging your friend to stop cutting, but if she’s not able to, she may need professional help to quit. It is nothing to be ashamed of. A counselor at school might be able to help if Mandy is willing to talk to one. But if she isn’t, then tell your mother about this so she can let Mandy’s mother know what’s going on. Cutting can be a sign of serious depression, and secrets of this kind are destructive.
DEAR ABBY: I’m 19 and in college on a scholarship. I have decided to declare an art major. I have found a part-time job that will give me a little extra income — figure modeling for some of the art classes. This would include both clothed and nude modeling.
It isn’t the only job I plan on taking, but it will help me out for the time being. Studying the human figure is essential for any art student, and it is something that has been done for centuries. When I told my parents, it was not well-received.
My mother strongly disagreed with my choice and handed the phone to my sister, who told me if I want to take my clothes off I should be a stripper. Abby, this hurt me deeply. My dad is worried that it will ruin my reputation. I find it hypocritical because my mom was an art major and her portfolio contains nude figures she drew.
My school is diligent about the safety and respect of its models, and I trust them. I’d like to take this job for the experience, and it will allow me to make more connections within the department I’ll be studying in for the next two years.
I’m not looking for my parents’ approval, but I wish they would attempt to understand. What would you suggest? — SERIOUS STUDENT IN VIRGINIA
DEAR SERIOUS STUDENT: Having studied figure drawing myself years ago, I can attest to the fact that models of all ages were used — both nude and clothed. There was nothing lurid or sexual about it, and the models were not posed in a suggestive manner or being ogled.
If you wish to display your body in an art class, you shouldn’t have to justify it to your parents or your sister. Your mother appears to have a short memory, and your sister’s comment was out of line.
DEAR ABBY: My 12-year-old son still calls me Mommy. My daughter, who is two years older, calls me Mom. I don’t want to hurt my son’s feelings, but I think at his age he should transition to calling me Mom. What do you think? Should I just give it time, or is there an age limit for calling one’s mother Mommy? — JUST MOM IN FLORIDA
DEAR JUST MOM: I think you should keep your mouth shut. There is nothing shameful or wrong about a son calling his mother Mommy if that is what he has done all his life. Frankly, it’s rather sweet, and it’s far more loving than some of the names people have written to me when referring to their mothers.