DEAR ABBY: I'm 15 and my boyfriend, "Todd," is almost 18. He wants us to have a baby. I would like to, but I live with my grandmother because my mom has a drug problem and my dad was killed when I was 9. I'm scared if I get pregnant she won't let me keep it.

My grandmother and I don't get along sometimes, and I'm scared she'll have my boyfriend put in jail. I have thought about this, and I really want to have a baby with him. I love Todd more than anything. Is it bad that I want to get pregnant? I'm in ninth grade and he'll be a senior. Please give me some advice. -- WANTS TO BE A MOM, PRINCETON, W.VA.

DEAR WANTS TO BE A MOM: Before you and Todd rush into this, it is important to consider how you will take care of a baby. Babies are not just cute; they are also completely helpless and a lot of work.

Some schools offer students a program in which boys and girls are given dolls that require 24-hour care. They are just like real babies in that they cry, wet, and must be "fed" and with a parent at all times. Students are assigned to care for their "baby" for a week or more, and often, by the end of the assignment period, the desire to have a baby disappears as the reality about the degree of responsibility becomes obvious. Please look into the possibility of attending a class like this because it is important.

If you become pregnant as a freshman, it will lessen your chances of graduating. You and Todd will need a diploma in order to support yourselves and a child. If loving a baby was all it takes, your mother would be caring for you instead of your grandmother. I cannot stress enough the importance of you and Todd completing your education before becoming parents. It will make you better parents. You should also be prepared to stay together until your child is an adult. Isn't that what you would have wanted if your father hadn't died and your mother turned to drugs?

I'm glad you wrote, that you're smart and didn't act on impulse. Your grandmother is doing her best to raise you, and she already has enough responsibility on her shoulders. Another child might be more than she can physically and emotionally handle.

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DEAR ABBY: I'm 16 and have been in a relationship for five months. I know I'm young, but things just happened. I like this boy a lot and he likes me.

Before we went out we were best friends. Back then, we had so much to talk about. But ever since we officially became a couple, there's nothing really to say to each other. We used to talk all day on the phone, and now it's kind of hard to have a normal conversation.

The physical attraction is there, but the mental attraction is sort of going away. He is amazing and listens to all my problems, but when I don't have any problems there is nothing to say. I don't want to end it between us. What should I do? -- DISAPPOINTED

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: You and your boyfriend may be spending too much time together and not enough on other activities. If you interact more with other friends, become active in sports or group activities and spend more time apart, then you -- and he -- will have more to bring to your conversations. Please try it, and encourage him to do the same.

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DEAR ABBY: I truly enjoy the "pennies from heaven" letters. I get goose bumps every time I read them. So, I want to go on record and say to everyone in heaven, I'd love to hear from each and every one of you. However, to make it clear your message is intended for me, please make it 1-ounce gold coins. -- WES IN GREENFIELD, IND.

DEAR WES: I'm not sure my column appears in the hereafter, but if it does, be careful what you wish for. If gold keeps inflating, the coins could bounce right back up to heaven.

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