DEAR ABBY: I am 20 years old and in jail. My ex-girlfriend recently had a baby. I left her during her pregnancy. We had been together for two years, but things just weren't working.
I told her I still wanted to be in my daughter's life after she had the baby, but she left and went to North Carolina. After I was incarcerated, I lost contact with her. She said I can be a part of my daughter's life only if we have a family and get back together.
I'm willing to do that, but I won't be out of jail for five more months, and I have no way to contact her. How do I go about it, Abby? -- LOVES MY BABY GIRL
DEAR LOVES: When your ex said what she did, she was using the baby to manipulate you into doing what she wanted. Because your relationship "wasn't working," I would caution you against having any more children with her.
When you are released, she may come after you for child support, or if she applies for benefits in North Carolina, the state may do that. That would be one way of pinpointing where she is. You could also search for her online. However, if you can't locate her any other way, you may have to hire a private detective when you can afford one.
DEAR ABBY: My kindhearted, loving mother-in-law would do anything for me. She has lived in an in-law apartment attached to our home for 20 years. She and my father-in-law -- God rest his soul -- were a huge help when our children were growing up.
The kids are gone now, and my husband and I would like to sell our home and move to something smaller. Would it be awful of us to make her move? She is 88. She has a loud and adamant-sounding voice, so it would not be in our best interest to have her move with us. -- DAUGHTER-IN-LAW IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Yes, it would be awful. It almost appears you took advantage of her for baby-sitting purposes, but now that the children are grown, she is no longer useful. Her voice didn't bother you before, so why does it now?
While it may not be "in your interest" to have her move with you, it may be extremely difficult for her to adjust to a new living situation at her age. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When your children see that you think this is an acceptable way to treat someone, the same thing could happen to you.
DEAR ABBY: I recently told my mother that I am transgender, male to female. She is supportive and urged me to come out to my father. Abby, he doesn't believe me!
I knew I was a girl at the age of 4, but kept it to myself until I was 16. How can I get my father to believe me? And how do I get my friends to understand when I come out to them? -- NEEDS HELP IN MISSOURI
DEAR NEEDS HELP: It may take time for your father to accept that you are transgender, or even to learn what that really means. Please remember that you do not have to "sell" this idea to your friends. As time passes, they will understand as you start living as a female and begin taking hormones.
An organization called PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is a source of reliable information and support for you, your friends and family members who are interested in learning about these issues. You can find it online at pflag.org.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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.)