DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old daughter, "Betsy," looks and acts older than her age. She's interested in older guys (17 to 19), and they're interested in her. Even though Betsy is not yet allowed to date or go to teenage clubs in town, it's becoming difficult for me to say no all the time.
How can I slow down my daughter's maturity? I would like Betsy to enjoy her childhood while she can. I realize her dad and I must allow her to grow up -- I just don't want it to be this early. And yes, she is aware of sex. We've had "the talk." -- WATCHFUL MOM IN LOUISIANA
DEAR WATCHFUL MOM: Keep your daughter busy. Get her involved in sports, dance, art, theater. But don't count on "slowing down her maturity." Much as you might wish to, you cannot hold back the hands of time.
P.S. I'm pleased you've had "the talk" with your daughter. At 15, she's well on her way to womanhood. Keep the lines of communication open, do not jump to conclusions, give her your unconditional love and listen without being judgmental. You're her mother, not her warden.
DEAR ABBY: Last year, my 32-year-old husband, "Tom," came down with a bad case of chicken pox. He never had it as a kid and couldn't be vaccinated because he is severely allergic to the vaccine.
The outbreak left Tom with pockmarks on his face, neck and back. He hasn't said much about it, but I know my husband. I can tell by the way he now styles his hair and wears his clothes that he's trying to hide the marks on his skin.
Tom is still very handsome, but he acts self-conscious and embarrassed about his appearance. Should I try to get him to talk about it -- yes or no? And if I can get him to open up, what should I suggest? Thanks, Abby. -- CONCERNED ABOUT HUBBY IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR CONCERNED: By all means talk to him. These days, many men avail themselves of cosmetic surgical procedures -- and not just in Hollywood.
Suggest that he consult a dermatologist about his options for improving the appearance of the scarring. In recent years, tremendous progress has been made in skin resurfacing. However, the procedures should be done ONLY by an experienced, board-certified physician.
DEAR ABBY: Here is a true "he never says he loves me" story: On a beautiful, moonlit night in August of 1935, my future husband, Bill, and I were on our first date. We went swimming in a small lake with a dance pavilion on the shore. From the beach, Bill and I could hear the orchestra.
Suddenly we both got very quiet, listening to a beautiful melody. When the song ended, Bill said, "Gee, that's a pretty song -- do you know the name of it?" I answered, "Love Me Forever." Bill took my hand and said, "Well, that's a long time, but I'd sure like to try!"
Over the years, whenever I told the story about "our song," I liked to tease Bill with, "That was the first and last romantic thing you ever said to me." Not the truth, of course, but it made a good story.
I am now an 86-year-old widow. My Bill died in 1971 -- and the "forever" feels as true today as it did that summer night. -- VIRGINIA "TOOTS" WEITZEL, OLEAN, N.Y.
DEAR "TOOTS": It may have been a first date, but your Bill knew a good thing when he saw one -- and how to close a sale. Your letter touched me. Thank you for sharing your love story.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)
to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111; (816) 932-6600