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DEAR ABBY: I am a junior in high school and will graduate in the first semester of my senior year. Someday I would like to be a stay-at-home mom. I have no interest in going to college. I feel it would be a waste of money for me to go when I don't intend to use my degree.

To say my parents are disappointed in me over this is putting it mildly. They have a life planned for me that includes college. I would also like to move away to somewhere where it's warm year-round, and they don't like that idea either.

How do I make them understand that this is my life and everything will be OK? -- UNINTERESTED IN IDAHO

DEAR UNINTERESTED: I'll paraphrase an old proverb: "When man makes plans, God laughs." What it means in your case is that a smart cookie stays flexible.

Let's say, for instance, that you get the life you fantasize about: You marry a man who adores you, doesn't mind that you have only a high school degree and is wealthy enough to support you. You have two or three beautiful children together and things are going great.

But what if, heaven forbid, he becomes seriously ill and can't work -- or worse, drops dead, leaving you the sole support of those kids? It has been known to happen. (And then, of course, there's also the possibility of divorce, which has been known to happen, too.)

Be smart. Listen to your parents, and arm yourself with the best education you can possibly attain because the reality is, one day you may need to use it.

Read more in: Work & School | Teens

Elaborate Invitations Put Girl On The Spot

DEAR ABBY: The school year has started and many high school girls like me are faced with a similar problem: how to politely decline when a boy asks you to a dance.

Whether it be homecoming, winter formal or prom, some boys go all out and ask girls in elaborate and creative ways. I don't know what to do in these situations if I don't want to go with the boy who is asking me. I feel bad saying "no" because of all the work they put into it, and also sometimes there is an audience watching. Should I just go anyway? -- SARATOGA TEEN

DEAR SARATOGA TEEN: If "many" girls share your problem, it's news to me. Most of the ones I hear from worry that they won't be asked.

If the young man has made a production out of inviting you, say thank you and that you're flattered, but you'll have to think about it and will get back to him later. When you refuse the invitation, it should be done privately so you won't embarrass the boy.

P.S. That said, keep this in mind -- sometimes, a girl ends up having a good time with the person she least expected to.

Showing Sympathy Doesn't Require Prayer

DEAR ABBY: I frequently receive requests via Facebook and other social media sites asking for prayers for people who are ill or suffering a loss. I'm not a religious person, but I would like to acknowledge their pain and extend my sympathy. Any suggestions? -- CHALLENGED IN TUCSON

DEAR CHALLENGED: That you are not a religious person doesn't mean that you're not a caring and sensitive one. When you receive news that someone you know is going through a rough patch, respond by saying you are sorry for his or her pain, and that he or she is in your thoughts.

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.)

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