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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl with a big problem. Today, when my father and I went to the supermarket, I saw a book that looked interesting. It was called "How to Win at Love." I picked it up not because I was having a problem with my love life -- I don't even HAVE a love life -- but I am curious about "love," so I read a few pages and decided to buy it. My dad saw the title and got mad at me. Then one of my sisters started treating me like I was a freak. Now, I'm scared my dad and sister will tell my mom, and then Mom will be mad, too.

My mom has told me I shouldn't have a boyfriend until I'm finished with school. How am I supposed to tell her I was only curious? I know they both think I'm too young to have a boyfriend, but that's not it. The book isn't about guys and marriage. It's about changing yourself and being in charge of your own life.

It's not my fault I'm curious about love. It's because my parents won't talk about it with me. Every time I ask something about it, they say, "Why do you want to know? Do you have a boyfriend?" I hate that. What hurts most is knowing if I can't talk to my parents about love, what CAN I talk to them about?

Right now, I don't want to talk to my parents about anything! Lots of things happen in my life that I wish I could talk to my parents about, but I guess I can't. The only people I feel safe talking with are my friends.

Abby, what should I do about my parents? Please help me. -- NO COMMUNICATIONS IN WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR NO COMMUNICATIONS: Of all the problems about which people write, yours may be one of the saddest. Your parents think by not talking about certain subjects, they can "protect" you. They fail to realize that what they are doing is isolating you. If you are afraid to talk to your parents for fear of being criticized or ridiculed, how can you learn their values and share in their knowledge? How unfortunate.

While it may seem "safe" to talk to your friends, the problem is they usually don't have any more life experience than you.

It is important that you find an adult in whom you can confide and from whom you can get straight answers when you need them. Perhaps a trusted teacher, a school counselor or the mother of one of your friends could fill that role. No child should have to go through his or her teen-age years without an adult to guide the way when the going gets rough.

DEAR ABBY: I appreciated your tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Because of his courage, and that of Mahatma Gandhi before him, we see more clearly how it is possible to elevate the consciousness of humankind by how we choose to live. The principles of nonviolence by which these men lived were based on the teachings of all great religions -- not just Christianity. The message that both Gandhi and King gave their lives for was one of unity, not separation or exclusion.

People like these men never die. Though their bodies were assassinated, their spirits live on in everyone who tries to be nonviolent. May we as humans learn from their fine example. -- JANNA CABLE PIJOAN, FORT COLLINS, COLO.

DEAR JANNA: I agree. It's ironic that men who taught the principles of nonviolence and patterned their lives according to those principles died so violently.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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