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Dear Abby: Pushy mother is shortsighted

Dear Abby: The letter you printed from "Needs Advice in Texas," whose mother forced her to wear shorts by taking away all her pants and jeans, made me sad and angry. What was this woman thinking? I'm now 31 and never wear shorts, except in the gym or while hiking. Shorts rarely flatter anyone. Capri pants and skirts are flattering, attractive and just as cool in summer, without causing self-consciousness.

That mother needs to learn a thing or two not only about fashion but also respect for her daughter. Being 14 and a girl is hard enough. —Sympathetic in Boulder

Dear Sympathetic: I agree that the mother could use some lessons in parenting and diplomacy; however, not everyone agrees with us. Read on:

Dear Abby:You agreed with the GIRL? What were you thinking? Your response will undermine the authority of that mother and lead the girl to disrespect her mother's decisions. My daughter had issues with wearing shorts, too. I chose to have her confront her insecurities by insisting she wear them. After a few random compliments from friends of hers, the shorts issue is no longer an issue. —Trish in Montgomery, Ala.

Dear Abby: The girl told her mother she was self-conscious about her legs, so she forced the girl to wear shorts anyway? What was the lesson here — that she can't make her own decisions because Mom is the boss? How would that woman react if her husband forced her to wear clothes she felt uncomfortable in?

Rather than teaching her daughter to be confident in her own decisions, she has insisted she be submissive. Wasn't there a better way to help her feel better about her legs? If she thinks they're too big, how about walking or exercising with her? It sounds like those two could really use some quality time together. —Dana in Fort Worth

Dear Abby: My daughter (now 18) was the same way. I decided long ago, starting with the "shorts" issue, that there are bigger battles to fight. We've been through the Goth look, black hair, white makeup, blue hair, pink hair, boyfriends with mohawks, Dumpster-diving wardrobes, to glitter, understated makeup, styled hair, French manicures, and being voted best dressed in her senior year.

We laugh about it now. But the bottom line is, my daughter has confidence in herself. That mother should count her blessings, because there are a lot worse things to fight about. If the girl doesn't mind the heat — you know, it's really no one's business. —Been There and Back in Michigan

Dear Abby: I'm a college student who hasn't worn shorts in public since middle school because I don't feel attractive in them. For hot summer weather, I suggest long, flowing skirts — which are really "in" right now — and long sundresses. They're perfectly acceptable summerwear, and besides being better suited than jeans for hot weather, they'll cover her legs. That should satisfy the mother while allowing the girl to achieve the level of modesty she desires. —L.B. in S.C.

Dear Abby: Regardless of whether that poor girl has nice legs or not, if she's not comfortable wearing shorts she should not be forced to. If she's hot in her jeans, that's her problem and not her mother's. Let's hope that "Needs Advice" forgets about this when she puts her mother in a nursing home and gets to dictate what SHE wears! —Peggy in Cleveland

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate