High school senior can't see beyond the next party

DEAR ABBY: As you know, when students are in their last year of high school, their minds start wandering to other places &

college, careers, marriage, etc. But my daughter is the complete opposite. All she wants to do is party and have fun.

When I approach her about the importance of planning her future &

things like college and work &

she tells me to "take a chill pill" and refuses to listen.

I want the best for my daughter. I'm a single parent and am afraid she won't get the education she deserves. She was a very bright student. She was on her way to being valedictorian until she took a turn for the worse. I have tried everything. I even scheduled a meeting with her school guidance counselor. My daughter never showed up. What can I do?


DEAR SCARED PARENT: Girls on their way to be(coming) class valedictorian don't normally take the kind of nosedive your daughter has. The first thing you should do is screen her for drugs. If she tests positive, get her into rehab. This will effectively remove her from the "party scene."

If the results are negative, sit your party girl down and inform her that the party is over. The time to start planning her independent future is here and now, and unless she wants to face the job market with only a high school degree she needs to make plans to complete her education.

And, dear parent, if that girl prescribes one more "chill pill" for you, show her in no uncertain terms what life will be like trying to build a secure future while earning minimum wage. After that, what happens will be up to her.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 15-year-old high school student with a big problem. My boyfriend of two months, "Justin," gave up smoking for me. We made an agreement that if he started again, I would dump him.

Now he's asking my permission to start again. I don't want Justin to smoke, but he tells me that smoking is "a part of him," although he wants me to be happy and knows I am against it.

I really like Justin and love being around him. But if he smokes I know it will cause a lot of problems with us. Please help me, Abby, because I'm not sure how long I can take this.


DEAR ANTI-SMOKING: My experts tell me that smoking is both treacherous and addictive. The earlier a person starts, the harder it is to quit because the need for the nicotine becomes hard-wired into the brain. I have never heard anyone say that smoking improved his or her health, although I have heard more than one person say that it shortened their lives.

If you truly care about Justin, you will stand your ground and remind him that you have an agreement, and in order to have you for a girlfriend, he will have to hold up his end. Believe me, you'll be doing him a favor.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 13 and have a problem. My mom's stepdad just passed away. My problem is I'm not sad. I mean, I knew him well enough &

but I'm not SAD. My mom cried, but I didn't. Is there something wrong with me?


DEAR P.I.P.: There is nothing wrong with you. Every person grieves in his or her own way. It's possible that your mother's stepdad occupied a larger place in her life than he did in yours. Therefore, the empty space his passing has left is greater for her than for you. You're normal, so stop worrying.

DEAR ABBY: My husband had a stroke the morning of New Year's Eve last year. He died on New Year's Day. This year has been hard for me. With the help of my strong faith and my family, I have been coping.

I am having an overwhelming feeling of anxiousness about the upcoming New Year's events. I don't want to go to any gatherings. (We usually stayed home.) I feel like going away, but where could I go without a lot of party stuff going on?

Should I just stay home and deal with the reminder of the events of his stroke happening here at home? I don't know what to do. I don't want to be with anyone, but I don't want to sit around bawling my eyes out reliving the whole nightmare, either. I'm confused and don't think I am thinking clearly.

I am not in some deep depression. I have accepted my husband's death, although I miss him dearly. I just feel nervous and anxious, and I don't feel like celebrating. Please help me figure this out.


DEAR HOLIDAY BLUES: Please know that all the feelings you are experiencing are absolutely normal. It is entirely possible that from now on you will associate New Year's with your husband's death. No law says that you must celebrate this holiday. If you would prefer not to be home at this time, consider checking into a hotel and asking a close friend or family member to join you.

Hopefully, as time goes by your anxiety will lessen. However, if that doesn't happen, then counseling can help you.

DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced in 2001 after a 20-year marriage. They reconciled a few years later, only to split up again after Dad once more had an affair with a younger woman. Dad is now living with his girlfriend, and the situation has my mother severely depressed.

Mom is in poor health due to a severe heart condition. She has had multiple bypass surgeries over the last 15 years and has a defibrillator permanently implanted in her chest. And she's not even 50.

Every time I speak with her or go to visit, she dwells only on the things Dad has done to her. I understand her pain, but I don't know how to help her overcome it. Words cannot express the contempt I have toward him for doing this to her again.

Mom can't work because of the stress it puts on her heart. I try to get her to go out and do things, hoping it will ease her out of her depression, but she wants only to stay home, do housework and watch daytime soap operas. She has also begun smoking again against her doctor's orders.

How can I help her before she works herself into another heart attack?


DEAR HEARTSICK: Your mother appears to be chronically depressed, and part of it may be due to her heart condition. You can't fix what ails her, but you should accompany her to see her doctor and explain what's going on. It's possible that with a combination of counseling and medication, her depression can be treated and she'll end the self-destructive lifestyle she has adopted. Because of her serious medical problems, her doctor should also be involved in her rehabilitation.

Dear Abby is written by , also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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