DEAR ABBY: I am a 21-year-old man in college. I am training for a profession I will love, and I know my future will be very bright.

I would like to volunteer at a soup kitchen or do something for the poor. I have done turkey drives and food drives before, but never worked directly with the people I’m trying to help. My problem is I tend to become very sad or feel helpless when I’m around disadvantaged people. I identify too strongly with their suffering.

Abby, I want to help as many people as I can during my short time on this planet, but I’m paralyzed by their pain. Is something wrong with me? Have you any suggestions? – WANTS TO HELP IN EDEN, N.Y.

My grandfather used to say that a thin line separates those who have from those who don’t, and it is the responsibility of those who have to reach out and do something to help the less fortunate. In your case, donating your time would be enormously helpful, and frankly, seeing you personally offering your assistance would go a long way to lifting the spirits of some needy people.

Because you are nervous about it, consider transitioning to the “front lines” by starting with food prep in the kitchen of the shelter and working your way forward as you gain more confidence. Yes, the clients are people in trouble. But they depend on the kindness of people like you.

DEAR ABBY: My husband has been joking recently about being a “closet case.” There has always been somewhat of a question about that in the back of my mind. Another ingredient to throw in is the fact that he is very controlling about everything, including sex – which he withholds unless it’s his idea. So, is he a closet case or is he just a controlling person? – UNSURE IN IRVING, TEXAS

While many a truth is spoken in jest, having never met your husband, I cannot decide for you whether or not he is gay or bisexual. He does, from your description, however, appear to be an unsatisfying life partner on at least two levels. So my question to you is, do you think you’re better off with him or without him – and is this the way you plan to live the rest of your life?

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I watch our 2-year-old granddaughter almost every weekend. She and her parents live about 60 miles from us.

The problem is, we agreed when we started taking her that we would meet halfway. But for reasons unknown to me, we always have to drive a lot more than halfway. I have checked the mileage and pointed it out to my daughter and son-in-law, and they ignore it.

This may seem petty, but I’m sick of it. They both work and earn more than we do. Don’t you think free baby-sitting is reason enough to get your child to the baby sitter? – GRAND “MA” IN OKLAHOMA

Yes, I do. But as long as you tolerate this arrangement, it will continue. Instead of letting your daughter and son-in-law tell you where they are going to meet you, tell THEM where you will meet them.

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.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.