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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm 16 and pregnant. The father of my baby is my stepbrother. It's my fault because I seduced him when we were home alone. Last night my sister said I need to go on a diet because I'm gaining weight, and she joked that I look pregnant. I don't think she has any idea that I really am.

I won't be able to hide this pregnancy much longer. My parents will go crazy, and my stepbrother will also be in major trouble even though it isn't really his fault. I can tell you my mom will not be understanding. Please help. -- DESPERATE FOR ADVICE

DEAR DESPERATE: You're right -- this is major trouble. But your parents have to be told, not only because your pregnancy will soon become obvious, but also because for the sake of the baby, you must have prenatal care. If you are afraid to tell them by yourself, then approach them with the help of another adult, either a close friend or a relative you can confide in. The only thing you shouldn't do is wait any longer.

DEAR ABBY: I have been feeling a great deal of guilt for a number of years after my parents' deaths. They both died of natural causes.

When the church services were over, my sister and brothers stood together in line and thanked everyone for coming. I could hardly sit through the service, much less thank anyone for attending. I was the first to leave the service and drove home to be alone.

Was I wrong not to stand with my siblings? I could hardly control my own feelings. It was impossible for me to deal with those of the others. What do you think, Abby? -- WORKING THROUGH GRIEF

DEAR WORKING: I think you are beating yourself up needlessly. Grieving is a personal process, and people do it in their own individual way. Because you needed to be alone, you were right to leave.

DEAR ABBY: I am dating a woman who is a prostitute and have developed feelings for her. The problem is her "job" gets in the way. I thought I could be OK with this, but I am not. She says she needs me and wants me in her life. She has talked about getting another job, but nothing ever happens. What should I do? -- MY NAME'S NOT JOHN

DEAR NOT JOHN: This woman has already demonstrated that she is not going to change professions. What you should do is find a woman who isn't a prostitute and whose profession doesn't "get in the way." It will be healthier and less frustrating for you.

DEAR ABBY: The other day my boyfriend discovered my diary and started reading it even though I asked him not to. I took it away from him, and he accused me of hiding something from him. I'm not hiding anything, it's just very personal. Is it wrong that I prefer to keep my diary a private matter? -- NOTHING TO HIDE IN NEW YORK

DEAR NOTHING TO HIDE: No, it's not wrong. Many people who keep journals also prefer to keep them private. What is wrong is your boyfriend snooping in the diary after you asked him not to, and then accusing you of hiding something from him when you told him it made you uncomfortable. If you have given him no reason to mistrust you, that's an indication that he is insecure and doesn't respect boundaries. And it's a red flag.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)