DEAR ABBY: A close relative has started working in the adult industry. She now dresses provocatively, showing lots of skin. She has also covered much of her body with tattoos and adopted the lifestyle of someone in that field. Our family assumes she's "going through a phase" and has no idea what she's really up to.
I have two small children I don't really want around her, but I'm not sure how to handle the situation. I don't want to tell her mom what she's really doing, but at the same time, I don't want my kids thinking that's how people in society are. Please help. -- NERVOUS IN NEW YORK
DEAR NERVOUS: If you no longer want to be around this person, no law says you have to be. If your relatives ask you about your absence, tell them the reason. If they don't, don't tattle. This isn't an emergency; rest assured her parents will find out eventually.
As to her being a bad influence on your children, take this as an opportunity for a teachable moment about people coming in "different packaging" and not judging a book by its cover.
DEAR ABBY: I'm confused and not sure what to do. I'm a 32-year-old single mom who is a hopeless romantic. I've been seeing someone for six months. He is already talking about marriage and a happily ever after, which I am ready for.
The downside is, not long after we started dating, I met someone who makes me question everything. He's someone I can't actually be with because -- yes, he's married. I'm disgusted with myself for allowing this to happen, but the minute our eyes met, my heart skipped a beat.
What I'm asking is, do I settle for the guy I've been dating because that's what I'm ready for? He's a great guy who cares a lot about my daughter and me. I can be a faithful and loving wife, which he wants. Or should I let him go because my heart truly isn't there? Please help me, even though I don't deserve it. -- SETTLING DOUBTS
DEAR SETTLING: Warning: Heartbreak ahead. Although you say you are ready for marriage and happily ever after, I don't think it's true. I can't warn you strongly enough not to marry one man while in your heart you yearn for someone else. It's a recipe for disaster, and the collateral damage will be not only Mr. Six Months but also your child.
DEAR ABBY: I received a drunken text from my son's friend telling me my son is gay. It rambled on about their relationship. I decided not to question my son about it because, if it is true, it won't change our relationship. It really doesn't matter to me. They live in another state.
This is a dilemma because I worry about this "friend" not being trustworthy. Is this my business? Should I tell my son? What if he gets upset? -- TAKEN ABACK
DEAR TAKEN: You should absolutely have a talk with your son about the text you received. Ask him if what the friend said is true, and if it is, why you didn't hear it from him. Don't be angry or accusatory. Just be sure to assure him how much you love him and that your feelings for him have not changed. He may need to hear you verbalize it.
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.)