DEAR ABBY: I am 13 and thinking of running away. The reason is, my mother doesn’t want me, my brothers or my dad. She’s selling our house so she can go and live with her mother, and so Dad and we kids can live with my dad’s mother. Abby, she wants to divorce my father, and she doesn’t care that she’s hurting us.

My brothers don’t quite understand what’s going on. They are hurt when they tell Mother that they love her and she doesn’t answer back. I can’t stand it!

All I want is for our family to stay together. How can I let my mother know how much she’s hurting me? She has never been an understanding person, and I know she’ll fly off the handle if I tell her, but I still want to. What can I tell her? – RUNNING AWAY IN SAN ANTONIO

DEAR RUNNING AWAY: I don’t know what has broken up your parents’ marriage, but I can guarantee you that it has nothing to do with you and your siblings. You need answers, and you are entitled to have them. It is important that you talk to your mother. Tell her that you love her and are very hurt and confused, and that you need her to help you understand why all this is happening. Believe me, it is not that she doesn’t love you. She may be ill or unable to properly take care of you.

DEAR ABBY: Is it absolutely necessary for a married person to wear a wedding ring? I am an independent woman with my own career in a technical and demanding field. I will never be a “traditional” wife. In fact, I resent the stereotyped gender roles that traditional marriage represents. Furthermore, I detest wearing rings in general. I find them uncomfortable and itchy.

I have brushed up against engagement before and have not been able to think of a solution. I value the idea of marriage as a partnership that should be honored. It’s just that the traditional assumptions of others make my skin crawl, and so do rings in general.

There must be other women – or men – out there with this problem. What would you suggest? – FREE SOUL IN TEMPE, ARIZ.

DEAR FREE SOUL: Although wearing a ring when someone is in an official relationship (engaged, married) is customary, no law demands it. If the idea of the piece of jewelry is what bothers you, take your lead from some of the celebrities who have had theirs tattooed on.

However, if your reluctance is caused by what the ring symbolizes, then you are either going to have to find a mate with feelings similar to your own or not get married.

DEAR ABBY: What is proper etiquette when someone has been staring at you in a restaurant or at an event? It makes me uncomfortable when I’m in a situation – such as a social or networking event – where I can’t leave. Usually, when I’m alone or with another person, I’ll just move away. But there have been times when I find myself trapped. Should I ask the person staring at me, “How can I help you?” I can ignore being stared at for five or 10 minutes, but on occasion it has lasted for an hour or more. – UNCOMFORTABLE IN HAWAII

DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: I prefer the direct approach. Say to the person, “I’ve noticed that you have been looking at me. Is there a reason?”

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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