DEAR ABBY: I noticed that my 16-year-old daughter wasn't her usual self. So I questioned her one night and asked if there was anything bothering her, or if she was worried about something. She started crying and told me she is gay.
I responded by crying with her and asking her if she was sure. She said she was. I told her she is still my daughter and I love her very much, but that I can't help hoping she's just confused and that as time goes on, she might see that this is not who she really is. I'm trying my best to accept it, but it is difficult at times.
Please help me understand if my feelings are normal. -- CONFUSED PARENT IN TEXAS
DEAR CONFUSED: Your feelings are normal. Most parents have plans and dreams for their children, and your child has turned out differently than you expected. I admire your daughter for her courage and honesty in telling you about her orientation, and I admire you for making it safe for her to do so.
Your next step is to contact PFLAG. I have mentioned this organization many times before in my column. It offers support groups, educational outreach and more to families and friends of gay, lesbian, intersexual and transgendered family members. The Web site is www.pflag.org and the telephone number is (202) 467-8180. Please don't wait to contact them. They will welcome you with open arms.
DEAR ABBY: I am nearly in my 30s and have this little problem. I tend to fall in love really easily. I sometimes can't tell if it's love, lust, or just a strong connection.
I have lost some very good friends because I became insecure and jealous when they showed an interest in other people. They weren't leading me on, they weren't giving me mixed signals -- I just fell for these people.
Last week I was so depressed I didn't eat for four days because of an incident like this. I got jealous because the object of my affections was on a date.
Rationally, I know I need to be there as a friend because most great relationships are built on friendships first. How can I tame my heart and not fall so easily? -- THE FALLEN IN D.C.
DEAR FALLEN: It isn't your heart that needs taming -- it is your insecurity! When people encounter needy, clingy, jealous people, their instinct is to run, not walk, in the opposite direction. Counseling could help you. You must get a grip and learn to like yourself more. Once you do, you'll feel less threatened if someone you like wants to take his (or her) time before making a commitment.
DEAR ABBY: My 67-year-old mother is retired and addicted to the Internet. She e-mails me at least five jokes, poems and "urban legend" articles a day.
It is annoying and time-consuming to wade through such nonsense, and I'd like to ask her to remove me from her mailing list, but I don't want to hurt her feelings. Please tell me what to say. -- PUSSYFOOTING IN NEBRASKA
DEAR PUSSYFOOTING: Since you haven't said otherwise, your mother may think you enjoy what she's been sending. Say: "Mom, I love you. But there's something you must understand. I don't have time to read a lot of e-mail. I'd love to get a personal message from you, but if the deluge doesn't stop, I'll have to delete your e-mails unread."
It's not unkind, and it's the truth.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600