Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: My mother is 66 and has had two major epileptic seizures. The incidents occurred in the middle of the night, and each time she was unconscious for a long time (45 minutes or more) and was taken to the emergency room by ambulance. She also has "minor" seizures that last only 30 to 60 seconds. I have seen them.

Her doctor has told her not to drive and that it's against the law in our state for her to drive until she has been seizure-free for six months. The problem is, Mom and her husband believe she can drive safely. She even bought a new car so she can get "better gas mileage."

I have offered to take Mom to doctors and other appointments, etc. She allows me to, but still drives herself to the grocery store and hairdresser and other places because they are "close by." (Not!)

Abby, I lost a brother in a car accident. I don't want to lose my mother in one, too. I'm also afraid for the safety of pedestrians and other drivers in her path. What can I do or say to get Mom to follow the doctor's orders?

— WORRIED IN THE WEST

DEAR WORRIED: Nothing. Because your mother refuses to use common sense or listen to reason, accept that talking to her is like talking to a wall.

A person doesn't have to have a major seizure to cause an accident. A blackout lasting a few seconds can cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle.

If your mother's physician isn't aware that she hasn't been complying with his or her instructions, let the doctor know. Write a letter explaining that you have seen her having minor seizures and that she's still driving. Urge him (or her) to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles, and you should do the same. The more time that goes by without this being dealt with, the greater the chances your mother could kill herself or kill or maim an innocent person who happens to cross her path at the wrong time.

DEAR ABBY: I am 14 years old and aware of what is going on in the world around me. My parents have owned a successful company for years, but with the economy in its current state, our family is having a tough time. We live a luxurious life and I am very blessed, but we have begun to give things up. I am fine with that.

My parents have changed. If I ask how things are, they get mad at me. If I tell them I don't need something, such as a present for my birthday, they ask me why and I tell them, "I know we don't have money to spend right now." Then they say, "We have money, but it's in the bank and is only for emergencies such as an illness."

How can I convince my parents that it is OK to tell me what is going on, and that we should go through it as a family?

— TEEN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR TEEN: It is the instinct of every parent to protect his or her child. That may be what your parents are trying to do when you raise the sensitive subjects of "how things are" and birthday gifts. What they may not realize is that you are no longer a child, and the questions and statements you are making are a reflection of your anxiety.

As stressful as the current economic environment may be, fear of the unknown can be even worse. By telling you they are not out of funds but being careful about how they will be spent, your parents have already taken the first step in letting you know what's going on, but now they need to fill in more of the blanks. Please tell them that that's what I suggest.

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.