DEAR ABBY: I read your column often and find it deeply troubling when girls write you lamenting that they are "still single." I'm 18, in my freshman year of college and I have never dated. I'm perfectly OK with this.
I'm not writing to bash girls who are in high school relationships, but rather to show there's an alternative. Abby, please remind them that it's fully acceptable for us to spend our teenage years single if we prefer. No one should feel pressured into a relationship because "everyone else is dating."
Girlfriends, if you're not ready for dating, then focus on discovering your beliefs, your purpose and what your talents, passions and values are. If you choose to do it accompanied by a partner, that's fine. But if you prefer to journey alone or with your friends, that's just as valid. -- INDEPENDENT IN RACINE, WIS.
DEAR INDEPENDENT: I agree! You are a self-confident, mature young woman, and you're delivering an important message to your contemporaries. I hope they'll give your message the consideration it deserves.
DEAR ABBY: I recently read an idea that I think should be shared with every parent in the world. You and your child/grandchild should establish a family password to be used if the child is ever approached by a stranger who says, "Your mother is sick and she asked me to come and get you." By asking for the password, the child throws the would-be kidnapper off guard, and the child has an opportunity to flee. -- VIGILANT IN VIRGINIA
DEAR VIGILANT: That suggestion is one that appears on many child safety websites, and it's certainly worth mentioning here. I'm sure many parents and grandparents will thank you for submitting it.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 13-year-old girl in eighth grade, wrestling with a problem I never thought I'd have -- a crush. I have liked "Garrison" for two years now. He's funny, sweet and cute, and he has stood up for me against bullies. We aren't in any classes this year, so I only see him in the halls.
I have no clue what to do, since I have never had a crush before and I'm not going to date yet. It hurts my heart. I know crushes are fleeting, but can you help me figure out what to do in the meantime? -- CRUSHED BY CRUSHING IN TENNESSEE
DEAR CRUSHED: Your crush seems to be a young man with character, courage and self-confidence -- because that's what it takes to stand up to bullies. Because he stood up for you, he already knows who you are. So when you see him in the hall, smile and say "Hi." That's not being pushy; it's being friendly. And if you're sitting around with an aching heart, I have a solution: Get up and get moving. Join a club, a sport, dance class or do some volunteering.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)