DEAR ABBY: I'm a 17-year-old girl and recently came out to my parents, who are stuck in the "it's just a phase" mindset. I used to be able to talk with my mom about everything, but now when I talk about my sexuality, she gets quiet and dismissive. It's frustrating. I understand I'm still young and learning things about myself, but I feel like I don't have their support as much as I used to. Help! -- NEEDS SUPPORT IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR NEEDS SUPPORT: What your mother may not realize is that children usually know they are gay long before they find the courage to talk about it. Young people who receive negative messages about what it means to be gay are -- not surprisingly -- less likely to be open about their sexuality because they don't want to disappoint or be negatively judged.
You might be able to talk more effectively with your parents if you contact PFLAG and get some information. This is an organization whose mission is to help LGBTQ people and their families build bridges of understanding. The website is pflag.org.
DEAR ABBY: I have a problem saying no. I live 45 minutes from work, and because I'm a friendly person, people constantly ask me to give them rides. Today, two co-workers who live nowhere near me asked for rides home. (I already gave one a lift to work.) Another asked me to take him to the grocery store. I like being helpful, but this happens all the time and it's too much. Tonight I'll be more than an hour late getting home.
I was raised with a strong sense of moral obligation and good manners, but I'm tired and just want to go home. I feel guilty for even thinking this. What do I do? -- YES-GIRL IN THE EAST
DEAR YES-GIRL: You should not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. Saying no does not make you a bad person.
There are ways to get the message across without seeming heartless. One would be to tell the truth -- that you are too tired, you have something else planned or you don't want to be an hour late getting home. While it may seem uncomfortable in the beginning, with practice you will find it empowering.
DEAR ABBY: How do you deal with family members who always insist they are right and you are wrong? If their beliefs are 180 degrees different from your own, must you just grit your teeth and keep your mouth shut? How do you get them to respect you for the adult you are (they are only five years older), or is it even worth it? -- FUMING IN FLORIDA
DEAR FUMING: Sometimes the wiser course of action is to win the war by forgoing the battle. With people like this, steer the conversation toward subjects you can agree upon. If you can manage that, family harmony will become easier to achieve, and respect will follow.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)