Dear Abby: I’m 14 and my dad is in the military, so he’s away from home most of the time. I try to help Mom out as best I can, knowing she’s stressed with Dad gone.

Whenever she gets mad at me, she calls me a “brat,” “selfish” or a “jerk.” She even told me once or twice that if she was my age, she wouldn’t want to be my friend because of the way I act.

Abby, please help me. I’ve always tried my hardest to do what’s right. How do I handle this without crying myself to sleep?

– Feels Like A Failure

Dear Feels Like A Failure: Sometimes when people are under stress, as your mother is right now, they say things they don’t mean. And sometimes when teens are under stress, they can act out in other ways.

A way to handle this would be to wait until your mother has calmed down and talk to her about the effect that her name-calling is having on you. Explain that you’re trying the hardest you can in a difficult situation, and then both of you should apologize to each other. The bruises that unkind words can leave sometimes outlast those that are physical.

‘Hero’ on mom’s mind

Dear Abby: I’m a 38-year-old wife and mother who has been happily married for 16 years. My young son recently had a medical emergency in his class at school, and his teacher, “Tom,” stepped in and saved him.

Since then I can’t stop thinking about Tom. I love my husband and I don’t plan on seeing or contacting Tom in any way other than as my son’s teacher. How do I stop thinking about him? Please help.

– Going Crazy in Tennessee

Dear Going Crazy: You are grateful to the “hero” who saved your son. The more you try to smother your thoughts about Tom, the more they will happen.

The most effective way I know of to deal with this would be to talk out your thoughts with someone. If this would be too uncomfortable to discuss with your husband, then do it with a trusted female friend. Over time it should subside.