DEAR ABBY: I’m a successful, 25-year-old professional woman, in an amazing relationship with a man I’ll call “Riley.” We plan to be married in June.

The worm in the apple is this: His parents are not happy with the fact that I have an 8-year-old daughter, “Kyra.” I was raped at 16 and chose to keep my baby.

Riley loves Kyra, and vice versa. But Riley’s parents can’t accept Kyra and me. It hurts my daughter not to be accepted, just as it hurts me. Riley has talked to his parents about the situation, but they are stubborn.

How can I get his parents to love us as their son has? – HURT IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR HURT: You could campaign for their love from now until the cows come home, but you can’t instill love in someone’s heart if it isn’t there to begin with. And if you were by some miracle able to achieve it, it could take years. Even if Riley demanded that his mother and father treat you and your daughter with kindness and respect, there is no guarantee they would comply. Please take this into consideration before proceeding with your wedding plans.

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a 9-year-old daughter, “Bianca,” who lives with her father. While Bianca was visiting me last summer, she noticed that she was “changing” physically. I took it upon myself to talk with my daughter about her changes and all of the things that come with going through puberty, including getting her monthly cycle.

Bianca came back to visit at Christmas and informed me that her father and stepmother have told her that she is too young to talk about her cycle. I want to confront them about this, but how do I do it without being offensive? Bianca’s father is very controlling and has a temper, and the smallest statement always leads to chaos. I am worried that my daughter may be punished because she told me what they said to her. – WORRIED IN THE SOUTHWEST

DEAR WORRIED: You did the right thing in talking to your daughter. Your ex-husband and his wife appear to be ignorant of the fact that girls are maturing at younger and younger ages, and need to know what to expect as their bodies develop. Rather than “confronting” them, make it clear to Bianca that if she has any questions, she can always safely address them to you. It would be better for your daughter than causing a fight.

DEAR ABBY: Even as a young girl, I have always loved horses. I have recently taken on the joyful responsibility of leasing a friend’s horse, to help out with expenses, and also to learn what it would be like to actually own my own horse.

It has been only three months, and I have spent three times the amount of money that my “friend” has, and have done all of the labor to boot. By “labor,” I mean cleaning horses, mucking out the stalls, cleaning water buckets and feed bins, cleaning the office, and even picking up her daughter and bringing her to and from the barn.

My question, is, how do people like my “friend” continue to look themselves in the eye after taking advantage of an honest, sincere sucker? – TAKEN FOR A RIDE IN CHESAPEAKE, VA.

DEAR TAKEN FOR A RIDE: Three months is a pretty long ride. A more pertinent question would be, Why have you allowed it to continue? My advice is to look at all the things you have learned from this experience, and in the future, resist the urge to be so “helpful.” Tally-ho!

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable – and most frequently requested – poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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