Dear Abby is often thought to be an expert on all things etiquette, but she’s recently had to apologize for the advice she gave to a concerned mom.
In a June edition of her advice column, Jeanne Phillips — who publishes Dear Abby under the pen name Abigail Van Buren, just like her mother before her — told a mom from New Jersey that it was “off-putting” to ask other parents if they have guns in their homes before allowing her daughter to play at their houses.
“Because you are concerned for your child’s safety, why not offer to have the kids visit your house for playdates?” added Phillips. “I’m sure many of the parents will be glad to have some free time, and it shouldn’t offend anyone.”
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Less than a week later, however, Phillips had received “a large number” of complaints, prompting her to clarify her statements.
“I have heard you loud and clear,” tweeted Phillips on June 27. She also stated that ensuring a child’s safety means “asking whether there are weapons on the premises,” and advised parents not to send their children to another child’s house if they feel it’s an unsafe environment.
Now, more than a month after the offending advice, Phillips has outright apologized for those initial remarks in a column she published on Monday.
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In response to a Yale-educated pediatric nurse (and psychiatrist nurse practitioner) who took Phillips to task for not encouraging the mom to follow through with her questions about gun safety, Phillips walked back her original response.
“Of course you are right. The woman’s question wasn’t about etiquette. It was about child safety,” Phillips told the nurse in a column titled “Vigilant Moms Can’t Shy Away From Asking About Gun Safety.”
“A large number of readers besides you agreed my perspective was off,” she added. “I have heard all of you loud and clear, and I apologize.”
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In doing so, Phillips also earned the praise of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that was initially critical of her advice, according to Today.
“Dear Abby has gone beyond just correcting the record; I’m proud to consider her an advocate now too,” said Dan Gross, the president of Brady Center. “Our children’s safety is something we call ALL get behind and all speak out for.”