DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of four years, "Harold," and I are starting to discuss marriage and starting a family. I am hesitant because of one thing: We have very different views about disciplining children.
My parents never used violence as a form of punishment, and I don't want to use it to discipline my kids. I think that other methods of discipline work just as well, without destroying the bond between parent and child.
When Harold was young, his father would discipline the kids by hitting them with a belt. Harold sees nothing wrong with this, although the only argument seems to be, "I turned out OK."
This is only partially true. Both Harold and his brother have big anger management issues. I love him and would love to spend the rest of my life with him, but this is a major issue for me.
Do you think this marriage would work, and are there any good compromises we could agree on? -- NON-VIOLENT IN ST. LOUIS
DEAR NON-VIOLENT: Your boyfriend may believe that he has turned out OK, but the fact that he has anger management problems proves that he didn't. Before any decisions about marriage are made, Harold should get professional help to get to the root of his problems, which are likely the result of his father's abuse.
You and Harold should enroll in classes on child development and parenting. Some hospitals, high schools and community colleges offer them. Unless the two of you can reach a firm agreement about this subject, you should NOT marry. The marriage would last only until he raised a hand or a belt to you or your little one -- and then it would be history, and rightly so. Children respond far better to praise than to punishment. The only thing that hitting a child proves is that violence is acceptable.
DEAR ABBY: I am 16 and a junior in high school. My best friend says there may be something wrong with me. When I was younger, I was a hard-core tomboy. I stayed that way until I got to be 13.
Finally, in my freshman year of high school, I began to wear makeup on occasion -- but to this day, I have never been interested in dating guys. I mean I like guys, but I don't care to DATE them. People look at me like I'm crazy when they hear me say that. Once a guy I know said he thought I was gay. I'm not. Now my friend is saying I might have a problem.
Abby, do I? Is it OK not to be drooling over guys right now? Should I date so people won't get the impression I'm gay? Please help. -- NOT INTERESTED IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR NOT INTERESTED: No, and it is OK not to be obsessed with boys right now. Not everyone -- male or female -- matures at the same rate. I have received letters from readers telling me they didn't become seriously interested in a romantic relationship until they were 18 or 19, or even older. You may be a late bloomer.
People are "coming out" much earlier than they used to, and were you attracted to people of the same sex, you would probably know it. If you don't think you're gay, you probably aren't. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into dating until you are ready. To do otherwise would be doing yourself and the other person a disservice.
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