Dear Abby: My 13-year-old daughter, "Lizzie," continues to talk to a 14-year-old boy who is very controlling and abusive to her. I made her stop talking to him, took away her cellphone privileges, and tried to show her how wrong he was for her and that she was going to wind up very hurt.
After recently giving her the cellphone back, I learned last night that Lizzie has been talking to him and lying to me about it. He sent her a text that if she didn't answer his call within seven minutes, he was either going to shoot himself or cut himself. He included a picture of his arm with a knife held against it. She thinks that her compliance is all that's standing in the way of this boy killing himself.
I'm scared for her safety, but she won't listen to me because she "loves" him. When I called the boy's mother about it, she became defensive and accused me of implying she was a bad mother. Please tell me how to handle this. – Worried Mom in North Carolina
Dear Worried Mom: It's time to have a nonconfrontational conversation with your daughter about the dynamics of emotional blackmail, because that's exactly what she's experiencing. Your daughter needs to realize that the boy appears to have serious emotional problems and as much as she may love him, she's not equipped to help him or to prevent him from hurting himself if he really wants to.
As long as Lizzie sees herself as a hero who is saving his life by sacrificing hers, he won't get the help he needs. So if she REALLY cares about him – and I have no doubt she does – she will end the relationship because it isn't a healthy one for either of them.
Dear Abby: A friend of mine, "Cameron," has a problem. It's his second year in college and he's still a virgin. He gave his heart to a girl in the past, and it left him bitter, emotionally unavailable and, unfortunately, unlaid. He is outspoken, but deep down he lacks confidence.
How can my friends and I help him, and how can he help himself? – His BFF in California
Dear BFF: You are well-meaning, but the person asking this question should be your friend Cameron. While the fact that he may be "unlaid" and "unavailable" bothers you and your friends, it's possible that it doesn't bother HIM.
If and when Cameron does tell you he is troubled by it, advise him to visit the student health center and discuss it with a counselor because there may be complicated reasons for it. He doesn't need help losing his virginity. But he may need help addressing his trust issues or he may always remain emotionally unavailable.
Dear Abby: How do you feel about young adults using the F-word in public? My sweetie, a mom of two, insists the word is becoming accepted. I am of the "old school," and I maintain that the word is tasteless and shouldn't be used in public. What do you think? – Keeping It Clean in Massachusetts
Dear Keeping It Clean: I think that, regardless of age, the F-word should not be used in public – and if it's used in private, it should be reserved only for "special occasions."
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.