DEAR ABBY: I'm a 17-year-old senior with a single, very controlling mother. It's impossible to have a sit-down conversation with her because she's always working to support us. She works as a dog groomer. She's always polite to her customers and friends, but she turns into a witch when it's just her and us kids.
I have never had any freedom. I go to school, come home and groom dogs, then it's the same cycle all over again. She makes me feel useless unless I'm working for her, and the truth is I think she wants me to live with her forever. She won't let me work, doesn't want me to go to college and won't give me my Social Security card or birth certificate, so I cannot get on with my life. Please help. -- TEEN WHO NEEDS ADVICE
DEAR TEEN: Where is your father in all of this? If your mother doesn't want you to see your birth certificate, it may be that there's something she's afraid you will see. Her controlling behavior does seem excessive for a girl your age.
In a few months you will be an adult. If you wish to continue your education, you should talk to a counselor at school about it and inquire about scholarships, student aid and how to apply. Do not let your mother's disapproval discourage you from trying.
DEAR ABBY: I'm dating a hard-to-find kind of man. He is charming, funny, polite and very sweet. He is my Prince Charming except for one thing. He's a racist.
I have asked him not to say demeaning things about people of other races to me because it upsets me. Most of his friends are like that, too. When he meets someone of a different race he's polite and friendly, but when he sees someone on TV, or walking on the street he makes derogatory comments.
I'm considering breaking up with him over this. Am I overly sensitive, or is this a legitimate concern? -- TOO SENSITIVE IN TEXAS
DEAR TOO SENSITIVE: You're not overly sensitive. We are living in an increasingly diverse society that in years to come will only become more so. Birds of a feather tend to flock together, and so do racists. Unless you want to become increasingly isolated and surrounded only by people who think like your "Prince" does, find someone who thinks more like you do. You'll be happier in the long run.
DEAR ABBY: My cousin "Carla" just had a baby. She's in her early 20s, unemployed and living in a condo her parents bought her so she won't be homeless. Her deadbeat boyfriend lives with her. They smoke pot and love to party, although Carla has abstained since she got pregnant.
When I received an invitation to her baby shower, I declined. I don't think her having a baby is a good thing, and I didn't feel comfortable celebrating this "good" news. I have not offered my opinion on the subject, but when my sister asked me why and I told her, she called me selfish. Do you think she is right? -- PRINCIPLED COUSIN
DEAR PRINCIPLED COUSIN: I don't think you were selfish for sticking with your principles. Nor do I think your unemployed cousin and her deadbeat boyfriend are heading down the road of parenthood in a responsible way. Because you didn't feel you would enjoy the event, you were right to decline the invitation.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)