Annie's Mailbox: Worried about how parents will react

Dear Annie: I am an 18-year-old girl and have a great relationship with my parents. The problem is, I like girls. (I know the correct term would be lesbian, but I somehow find that word offensive.) And I am scared to tell them.

A few years ago, the subject came up, and I received mixed signals. First, my parents said they would "kill me" if I was gay, but then said they would be OK with it if I would just tell them.

I always thought once I was grown up and on my own, I would be able to come out, and lately, I've felt the urge to tell them. I have a great girlfriend, and I want them to know about my relationships and be involved the way they are with my brothers. But I don't want things to change. I don't want to feel uncomfortable around my parents, and I don't want my sexual orientation to cause problems in their marriage.

Please, Annie, can you help?

- Scared of Change

Dear Scared: Your sexual orientation should not cause problems in your parents' marriage. Although we understand your trepidation, we believe they would rather be part of your life and include your partners than risk losing you. It doesn't mean there won't be awkwardness at first, so you have to give them time to accept the new reality and deal with the change in their expectations. Contact PFLAG (pflag.org), 1726 M Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036, for support and suggestions on how to approach your parents about this.

Dear Annie: I am a 25-year-old single mom of a beautiful little boy. I work a full-time job and go to school part time in the hope that I will become a state trooper.

Like any other single parent, money has been tight. My health insurance coverage through work is OK, but my dental plan is terrible and, as a result, my teeth have become a big problem. I went to a dentist to start having some cavities filled and got a bill for more than $400. I almost passed out.

Where can I go to get my teeth fixed so that in a year I still have enough teeth to get a good job? I am trying extremely hard to make a better life, but every time I think things are going well, something happens. I just want my smile back.

- Smileless in N.Y.

Dear Smileless: We have covered this topic before, but it bears repeating. Dental schools and public health clinics often provide free or low-cost dental care. Check your phone book for your state dental society, visit the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website at nidcr.nih.gov (click on "Finding Dental Care"), or write to the National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse at 1 NOHIC Way, Bethesda, MD 20892-3500.

The Bureau of Primary Health Care supports federally funded community health centers across the country that provide dental care. Contact the HRSA Information Center (ask.hrsa.gov/pc) at 1-888-ASK-HRSA (1-888-275-4772).

Dear Annie: I feel compelled to comment on your response to "Betrayed in Boise," whose husband apparently is carrying on with another woman in another city. You suggested she get counseling. Yes, she should get counsel, all right, but legal counsel, not matrimonial.

Come on, ladies, her husband gets upset when she drops in on him unexpectedly and there's a female co-worker there. Hello? This marriage is beyond redemption. Although "Betrayed" seems somewhat naive, if you had suggested she leave this relationship and seek the advice of a lawyer, it might have served as a wake-up call. I think she sure could use one.

- Montreal, Canada

Dear Montreal: We didn't tell her to get counseling because we thought it would save her marriage. Counseling will help her find the strength to make whatever decisions are necessary, and we think she'll need it.

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