Dear Abby: I love my daughter-in-law and I am afraid she is harming herself because of her addiction to tanning. Her boys are in high school and cannot remember their mother without a really dark tan. One son told his classmates in grade school that his mother was African-American when they were doing African-American studies. (She's Caucasian.)
My son says he cannot convince her to "lighten up" a bit. I don't know what to do. I am ... So Concerned For Her in Illinois
Dear So Concerned: You are right to be concerned for your daughter-in-law. For years, dermatologists have cautioned the public about the dangers of exposure to the sun.
With the invention of tanning beds, the rates of melanoma among young people have soared. For anyone who isn't aware, melanoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer that can be fatal.
Tanning can be addictive, and you should urge your daughter-in-law to discuss this with a dermatologist. Because tanning also causes premature aging of the skin, she should explore "sunless tanning," which is much safer.
Dear Abby: I'm 18. My boyfriend, "Matt," and I have been together for a year and a half, and I'm leaving for college this fall. Matt will be attending community college nearby.
I have been told that the next four years are the best years of life, and I want to live them to the fullest. In order to do that, I want to be single so I can have a good time and be a little reckless without worrying about him.
I love Matt and would one day like to marry him, but since he's only my third boyfriend, I want to find out what other fish are in the sea before I settle down. What should I do? – Wants The Best Of Both Worlds
Dear Wants The Best: The kindest thing to do would be to tell Matt that while you care deeply for him, because you are going to be separated for the next four years, you feel both of you should be free to date others. That's a lot more tactful than saying you'll still be there if there aren't any bigger fish in the sea, and I'm sure it will get the idea across.
Whether or not the next four years will be the best years of your life – one would hope you have more than four – they will be an important growth period for both you and Matt, and each of you should explore them to the fullest without being encumbered.
Dear Abby: We play softball at school a lot, and I can't play well. I don't know what to do, and the others laugh at me. What should I do? – Anxious For Advice
Dear Anxious: I know of no athlete, amateur or professional, who can become proficient at a sport without lots of practice. Talk to your coach about what you need to do to improve, and see if another adult would be willing to play catch and pitch to you.
If you keep trying, you will improve. If not, there may be another sport you will like better.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.