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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Jim," a single father of an 18-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, "Jenna." The girl is very close to her parents to the point that she sleeps with them. On nights she's with Jim, she shares a bed with him. Jim and his ex have been divorced since Jenna was 2. She shared their bed while they were married.

I no longer bring up the subject. I guess you could say Jim and I have agreed to disagree. However, I don't think a 13-year-old girl should be sharing a bed with her father. To put it bluntly, it gives me the creeps.

Jenna also shares her father's master bedroom and closet with him as if she were his wife. Please understand, this girl has a lavish bathroom of her own connected to a princess-style bedroom that contains everything a girl could ever wish for. Space is not the problem. When she visits, she never sets foot in her own room or bathroom.

I haven't said anything to Jenna because I don't want to upset her, but I think it's inappropriate for Jim to continue allowing her to sleep with him. Should I let it go? I have voiced my opinion before, and it has caused several heated arguments. What are your thoughts on this? -- SLEEPING WITH ONE EYE OPEN IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR SLEEPING: Although it is common for some parents to share their bed with infants or toddlers, it is far less so for a father and his teenage daughter. Jenna is no longer a child, and frankly, to continue this practice is inappropriate and potentially stimulating for both of them.

Clip this column and share it with Jim. Perhaps it will help him to rethink his stance on this.

DEAR ABBY: I consider myself a relatively "normal" female. Although I'm a little reserved, I can usually open up to new people. But I have one problem I'm afraid will cripple my chances in dating -- talking on the phone. My mind goes completely blank, and those terrible, awkward silences slowly stretch ...

In person, I can read expressions, and it's easier for me to communicate. But in this day and age we exchange phone numbers first, and then -- maybe -- date. However, before we even have a chance to sit face-to-face, I'm discounted.

Please help me. Is there any way I can be a better conversationalist on the phone so I don't wind up an old maid? -- PHONE-PHOBIC IN TOPEKA

DEAR PHONE-PHOBIC: Not everyone is comfortable making small talk on the phone. Instead of trying to fill up the "empty space" with prattle, why not be up front about it? When someone you have given your phone number to calls, talk for a few minutes, then say: "You know, I hate talking on the phone. Let's meet for a cup of coffee." That way you can put your best foot forward and show your attributes to greater advantage.

DEAR ABBY: How old do I have to be before I can begin telling my relatives exactly what I think of them? I am sick and tired of being polite to these low-lifes! I want to give them a piece of my mind before I leave this Earth. I am presently 67 years old. -- BITING TONGUE IN ZEPHYRHILLS, FLA.

DEAR BITING: I don't know how old your relatives are, but if they're older than you are, you had better hurry.

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-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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