Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Teen Being Offered Sex Needs a Talk With Dad

DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend is very sweet. The problem is, she wants to have sex with me. I don't think I am ready for that. I also don't know how to approach my parents about this. I really need some help -- fast! -- NOT READY IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR NOT READY: Your girlfriend may not be as interested in having sex with you as she may be in doing what she thinks you may expect from her. That's why you should have a talk with her and tell her that, at this point, you don't think you are ready. You may find she's relieved to hear it.

Because you find this subject too delicate to talk to both your parents about, I recommend you bring it up with one of them -- your father, perhaps. You don't have to start the talk by announcing that you're being pressured into sex. Instead, start out by saying there is talk around your school about the number of kids who are having sex and you'd like to talk about it. If he isn't comfortable with discussing this with you -- and I'm pretty sure that won't be the case -- then talk to a counselor at school about the fact that you need some direction.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter "Kayley" has been asking me to set up a playdate for her and her friend "Julie." I have met Julie's parents on a few occasions -- the playground, school events, etc. For some reason, I feel uncomfortable around them. I thought I smelled alcohol on her father's breath when we were at the playground, and he also said some things that seemed inappropriate.

I've been avoiding the playdate request because I know if we invite Julie, she will probably invite my daughter to her house to reciprocate. I don't think I can leave Kayley at their house.

I keep making up excuses, but Kayley is persistent. I don't want to tell her that I'm not comfortable with Julie's parents or the prospect of having her go to their house because I'm afraid she might repeat what I say to Julie. What should I do? -- AT A LOSS FOR WORDS IN MAINE

DEAR AT A LOSS: Stop making excuses and invite Julie to play at your home. When Julie's mother offers to reciprocate, tell her -- sweetly -- that you prefer playdates be at your home. Period. Do not be defensive about it, just firm.

P.S. You may be worried over nothing because Julie's mother may not make that offer you're dreading.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Ben," is a loving, caring, big-hearted and sincere man, but I have a problem with the way he presents himself in public. His clothing is frequently stained, wrinkled and ill-fitting, and he doesn't seem to care. He even wears clothing with holes and rips. Some of his clothes look like they haven't seen a washing machine in weeks because they're so stained.

I have bought Ben new clothes, but most of the time he puts them away and wears his old, beat-up and grubby things. He gets upset and defensive when I bring it up. Other people have commented about the way he looks and, frankly, sometimes I'm embarrassed to be seen with him.

He's a great guy and I don't want to hurt his feelings, but this really bothers me. I don't want him to look like a fashion plate, but neat and clean would be good. Any ideas on how to deal with this? -- DISAPPOINTED WITH DISHEVELED

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: I do have one. Rather than buying your husband any more clothes he doesn't wear, take him shopping and have him select some items in which he would feel comfortable.

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 $12 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)