Teen needs to wait before she can date

DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl, and my parents won't let me date. I believe I am mature for my age and won't do anything foolish. I don't know why my parents are being like this. Please give me some advice on how to persuade them.

- Really Ready in New Hampshire

DEAR REALLY READY: Although you think you are ready to start dating, your parents will have to make the ultimate decision on when you enter the "dating game." Their decision will most likely be based on whether you have demonstrated the beginnings of emotional maturity.

Here's how: You need to have proven to them you can handle responsibility, carry out school assignments and chores, be honest with them and keep your word. It will also depend upon whether they know the boy in question, and whether he is responsible enough to be trusted with their most precious possession, which is you.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 27 years to a man who is a church pastor. We have had to move every six to eight years, partly because he was repeatedly unfaithful. We have gone through his alcoholism, gambling and womanizing, and my two suicide attempts. I now suspect that he's back to his old ways.

I work part time, but haven't been able to find a full-time job after our most recent move, so I am financially dependent on him. I have two adult children who don't live near me. Most of the people I know are through the church, and they are all great supporters of my husband.

I feel trapped, and I don't know how to fix my life at this point. Have you any suggestions?

- Trapped on the East Coast

DEAR TRAPPED: You will have to do it in stages. The first should be to talk with a licensed therapist who is not associated with the church. It will help you to clarify your thinking.

Once you are feeling better about yourself, you will be better able to decide what to do about your unhappy marriage.