DEAR ABBY: I'm 17 and go to a high school with drug addicts and girls who are lucky they aren't pregnant. (Some are.) My father thinks I'm like them even though I have proven time and again that I'm not. I have a 4.0 GPA and have never done drugs or had sex.
I'm not allowed to drive anywhere without my mother accompanying me. If I want to go on a date with my boyfriend, my parents must be present. I have lost friends who are tired of having to hang with my parents and me. I have tried telling my dad this, but he claims I'm being ridiculous and then picks a fight with me. I suggested family counseling, but Dad refused. He says we don't have the money.
What do I do? I just want to be a normal teenager who can hang out without my parents following me everywhere. -- TIRED TEEN IN WYOMING
DEAR TIRED TEEN: You have my sympathy. You have caring and conscientious parents, who appear to have gone overboard in trying to shelter you. By age 17 -- and with a 4.0 GPA -- you should have been allowed to socialize without a constant chaperone. That's how teens learn to develop relationships and make mature decisions.
In another year you will be 18 and an adult. If there is an adult relative in whom you can confide, ask that person to please speak to your parents on your behalf. You should be experiencing more freedom than you have been allowed.
DEAR ABBY: I have known my boyfriend, "Kyle," for eight years. We have been dating more than two years and living together for seven months. We have an amazing relationship. We love to laugh and make each other laugh. That's a "quirk" we share.
This morning, Kyle woke up, went straight to his dad's house without saying why and returned with his hair cut, beard trimmed and looking well-groomed. He seemed kind of "off," though -- almost nervous. He then went to his mom's to help with some yard work and when he came home, he snuck up behind me and slipped a ring on my finger. I got a little teary-eyed and asked where it came from. He said from his mom. He acted shy, wouldn't say much or look right at me. Then, after a moment, he shouted, "Just kidding! I wanted to make you laugh and freak you out a little."
I don't think there was malicious intent on his part. He's a sweetheart, but I don't know how to tell him how badly he hurt me emotionally. I thought he was proposing. What should I do? -- UNENGAGED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR UNENGAGED: Sit Kyle down and tell him the effect his "joke" had on you. After a couple has started living together, a proposal of marriage is no laughing matter unless both partners are in on the joke.
P.S. If you talk to him in all seriousness, you may find that he did propose, but then got cold feet.
DEAR ABBY: I'm in my early 60s and have no plans to retire. I raised a child on my own and wasn't able to save much for retirement, and my office retirement plan disappeared during the recession in 2008.
Because of my age, people young and old often ask when I plan to retire. I don't feel I owe anyone an explanation as to why I continue to work, and I plan on working as long as I can. I usually say I can't afford to retire, but then I get a response like, "I sure hope I'm not working at your age," or "You can get Social Security," etc. Any idea how I should respond to let these people know it's none of their business? -- MIFFED IN MENLO PARK
DEAR MIFFED: All you have to do is smile and say, "Retire? I'm just getting started!"
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.
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