DEAR ABBY: My name is “Alicia,” and I’m 16. About a year ago, my mom got two puppies. Although they are annoying, I have to admit they are very cute and adorable.

My problem is, ever since we’ve had the puppies, I have thought my mom loves them more than she loves my brother and me. For some reason, I feel replaced by them. I know she loves us very much, but it hurts to think she cares more for them than she cares for us. I think that because my brother and I are getting older, she needs something else to love. Sometimes I just want to sit and cry, but I have never been a person to spill my guts out to my parents. Can you give me any advice that would help me with this? – REPLACED BY DOGS IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR REPLACED: Keeping your feelings locked inside is no way to resolve your problems. Your mother may be an animal lover, but I can guarantee that she loves you and your brother far more than those dogs. However, the person you need to hear it from isn’t me – it’s her. So please clip this letter, give it to your mother and tell her you wrote it. You appear to need a long, hard hug and some reassurance, but your mother can’t know that unless you tell her.

DEAR ABBY: I have reason to believe that a young man in my family may be gay. (He is 15.) I have been thinking a lot about it lately, and have been wondering if circumcision would cure it. What do you think? – GRANDMOTHER IN MISSOURI

DEAR MISSOURI GRANDMOTHER: Homosexuality is not an illness, and therefore there is no need for a “cure.” I predict that your family will be happier if you accept your relative exactly the way he is, love him, support him, and stop trying to think of ways to cure him.

P.S. Circumcision is a sacred rite of the Jewish religion. If your theory were valid, then there would be no Jewish homosexuals. And yet, among the successful, gay, Jewish men who are “out” are Harvey Fierstein, Michael Feinstein, Barney Frank and David Geffen – to name a few. (Oops! And let’s not forget Isaac Mizrahi.)

DEAR ABBY: My friend and I have one teacher who is beginning to scare us. He says things like, “You know I love you,” and he tells us how he misses us when we’re not in class. He also will come from behind and give us back rubs, put his arms around us and give us an occasional hug.

We have been trying to ignore it because, when we told my mom, she said he probably didn’t mean anything and was just trying to be nice. But at a school dance, he gave my friend a kiss on her cheek and put his hands on my waist.

Maybe we’re overreacting, but, Abby, we are the only two in our class he does this to. Other teachers have made us sit through videos and read brochures on “improper touching,” and we are beginning to wonder. Is he stretching the line? – CONCERNED STUDENT, PARKERSBURG, W.VA.

DEAR CONCERNED: Your teacher appears to be using very poor judgment. He has not only “stretched” the line, he has crossed it. It’s time you and your friend visit the principal of your school. Explain that the man’s overly affectionate behavior is making you both uncomfortable, and you are the only two students that it’s happening to. If he hasn’t been “counseled” about touching students, this teacher definitely needs to be.

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.

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