DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old high school senior. My parents and I don't get along. I swear to goodness that they hate me, plus they don't trust a single thing that I do. I am about to ship out for training in the Army, and I will be gone six months.

I met this guy, "Alex," who is 20. He is an absolute dear. He is nice and patient, and is aware of my going into the service. Alex is in the Marines, so he knows how things go. He promised he would wait for me till I get back.

The problem is, my mother doesn't want me to see Alex because he helped me to skip school and gave me a hickey. I have talked to him about the hickey, and my parents lectured him on my skipping school. He promised neither would happen again.

What isn't fair is that my mom had a kid when she was my age and her boyfriend was 30, yet I can't date a 20-year-old. Alex is a sweetheart, and I really like him and would love to go out with him. What do I do?

"" LEARNING TO TRUST AGAIN IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR LEARNING TO TRUST AGAIN: You try to understand that it isn't that your parents don't trust you. The person they don't trust is the 20-year-old who helped you skip school and gave you a hickey.

Having "had a kid" at your age has made your mother only too aware of how trusting and vulnerable a young woman can be at 17. You are on the cusp of flying the nest &

as she was &

and she wants to make sure that nothing impedes your progress.

So, what should you do? Go get your military training, and when you get back, if your Marine is still waiting as he promised, start dating him then.

DEAR ABBY: I went to visit my aunt at her home last month. I had never met her new husband. When we met, it was like we both fell in love at that moment.

I asked my aunt how he proposed to her, and she told me the whole story. But when I asked him how he proposed to her, his response was that they were not married. He said they were just together for the child, and he had never in his life proposed to her.

Didn't he think that, maybe, I had already asked my aunt about it? Why would he lie like that? What could he be trying to say by that?

"" DON'T KNOW WHAT TO THINK IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR DON'T KNOW WHAT TO THINK: He is sending you two messages. The first is that he is "available." The second is that he's a dirty rotten scoundrel, and you shouldn't trust him.

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter in your column from the reader who was offended by gum chewing in public, I thought you might enjoy the following:

A gum-chewing person

And a cud-chewing cow.

So much alike,

Yet there's a difference somehow.

Ah, yes, we have it now!

It's the thoughtful expression

On the face of the cow.

"" DEAN AND ROBERTA BUNN, "THE MAGICOMEDIANS," MINNEAPOLIS

DEAR DEAN AND ROBERTA: Not only did I enjoy it, but I'm sure my readers will, too. Thank you for sending it.

DEAR ABBY: I am an 18-year-old female. I have a cousin, "Sabrina," who is 14. Despite the age difference and the fact that we live 1,000 miles apart, we're quite close. I know Sabrina adores me, so I have always tried to set a good example and try not to do things I wouldn't want her to do.

Sabrina has had some problems in the past and has been diagnosed with anorexia. I have tried to be supportive, but because of the distance I can't do much more than pray for her to get through this difficult time.

Sabrina was released from the hospital in February, and her mother has told me that although she knew they would have some bad days ahead of them, she was sure my cousin was on the right track to getting past her disorder.

Sabrina's birthday is coming up, and I want to send her a card. In the card I was thinking about writing something to the effect that "No matter what you look like, I think you are beautiful" &

because she is. However, I don't want to have her suddenly try to lose weight again because of my card. Is there a way for me to politely say it without running the risk of setting her off again?

"" CONCERNED COUSIN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR CONCERNED COUSIN: Yes. Instead of telling Sabrina, "No matter what you look like, I think you're beautiful," just say you think she is a wonderful person and always have. Then add that you hope she's doing well in her recovery and that you love and admire her. That way, your message will be stronger, and there will be no possibility of negative connotations.

DEAR ABBY: I am terribly torn. My 14-year-old daughter was molested by my 85-year-old father last year while he was on a visit from his home in another state. I have taken her to therapy to help her work through her feelings. I have also confronted him and told him he is no longer allowed contact with our daughters. However, I have not been able to sever contact with him.

I love my dad. He is my only remaining family member, and until this incident he was the model of a perfect father. I don't know how to deal with these love/hate emotions. Am I being unfair to my children by not eliminating this man from my life?

"" AMBIVALENT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR AMBIVALENT: It would be interesting to know what happened after the molestation. Was your father held accountable? A licensed psychotherapist is required to report child abuse and/or endangerment to the authorities. Did that happen?

"Model fathers" do not molest their grandchildren unless they are unbalanced. Because your father's behavior was out of the ordinary, he should have had a medical/psychological/neurological examination to ascertain whether he's suffering from dementia or something is physically wrong. He might be more open to it if the alternative is your notifying the police.

That said, put yourself in your daughter's situation. Had you been victimized, how would YOU feel if your mother continued having a relationship with your abuser? OK &

now you know how your daughter feels.

Dear Abby is written by , 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.