DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl, and I know I am not wanted. One night I heard my mom talking to her new boyfriend about wishing she had no kids so she could do things without having to sneak around. I don't know what to do.
Is it my fault that she doesn't want me? Please help me, Abby. You help so many other people -- please start with me. -- UNWANTED IN OTTUMWA, IOWA
DEAR UNWANTED: None of this is your fault, and if your mother knew what you overheard, she would probably want her tongue amputated. I am sure she loves you very much. However, adults sometimes speak in "shorthand" -- and what she MAY have been trying to communicate to her boyfriend was that, overwhelmed with parental responsibilities, she was longing for the relative freedom of her youth.
Clip this column. Show it to your mother and let her explain the specific details to you -- after she apologizes, that is.
DEAR ABBY: I grew up in a small town where I was sheltered from the real world. I am now in college and realize how much I don't know.
I recently encountered a situation I had no idea how to handle. My friend confessed to me that she's gay. Although I was surprised, I wasn't upset because I love her as a friend.
Unfortunately, at the moment she poured her heart out to me, I didn't know what to say. All I could muster was, "Ummm ... OK." Abby, I felt awful!
If something like this happens again, is there proper etiquette to use? I don't want to be insensitive. Coming out is difficult enough without having to figure out what the person you confided in is feeling. Your thoughts, please. -- OPEN-MINDED BUT CLUELESS
DEAR OPEN-MINDED: There is no rule of etiquette for how to react when someone comes out to you. The best advice I can offer is to think with your heart and offer your support. Say, "Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me. It doesn't change the way I feel about you. You are my friend, and I love you." It's honest. It's clear. It's reassuring. And it's what the person needs to hear.
P.S. It's not too late to say that to your friend.
DEAR ABBY: We live in the tidy beach city of Santa Monica, Calif. Just around the corner from us is a fast-food restaurant. The number of people who stop to eat in front of our house is astounding, but that's not what bothers me.
What upsets me is the number of folks who dump their trash on our lawn when they've finished eating. They are usually construction workers or parents with young children.
Since schools often read your column in class, perhaps the students could write in and give us an explanation of why this kind of littering is acceptable nowadays. -- WANTING AN EXPLANATION
DEAR WANTING: We both know the reason -- it's because they're too lazy to dispose of the trash in an appropriate way. In the tidy beach city of Santa Monica, and in many other cities, there are laws against littering. I suggest you inform the police about your problem. I'm sure they'll welcome the chance to gather some extra revenue for the city.
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 $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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