Dear Abby:

I am very worried about my 12-year-old daughter, "Carrie." She's in seventh grade. The other night, I came across a letter she was writing to a girlfriend from school. It said, "I have 'Frenched' with him twice in the hallway.' " I was shocked! After taking a little while to get it together, I calmly asked Carrie about it. She refused to explain.

Abby, this is a girl who wanted (and got) a Barbie Talking Dream House for Christmas! How can she be French- kissing anyone?

Carrie and I have always been close, but now I realize she has confided in me less and less over the last several months. As she's gotten older, I'm afraid I don't know who she is anymore.

Her father and I are separated. He is currently enrolled in a 28-day alcohol recovery program. Carrie has not had much of a relationship with him for a couple of years now. I know that you are going to suggest counseling, and I am not opposed to that. However, my real question is, how do I convince my daughter to go? I know she'll fight it, and I hate the idea of forcing her to do anything.

Worried and Confused Mom in Delaware

If you haven't already done so, it is time for you to have a frank mother-daughter talk with your daughter about sex, and the responsibilities that go with it. Children are maturing faster than ever, and Carrie is right on schedule. There are many books for parents and teens on this important subject.

After you have done that, family counseling will improve your level of communication. As long as she knows the counseling isn't being aimed solely at her, she'll be less likely to object. As a member of the family, Carrie should be included.

Dear Abby:

I went to school with "Bert" from grammar through high school. It's no secret that he's been in love with me since seventh grade. After we graduated from high school, Bert remained in our hometown. I moved away and go back only to visit my family.

Bert got my phone number from a mutual friend and, in the four years since high school, has called once in a while. Out of courtesy I'd chat with him, thinking his calls would eventually stop. I was wrong.

For the last two months, Bert's calls have become so frequent, I have stopped answering my phone -- or if a girlfriend is visiting me, I'll ask her to answer for me and tell Bert I'm "on a date." I hoped he'd take the hint, but it hasn't worked.

Last Christmas he sent me an expensive present. I did not accept it and still have not spoken to him.

Then one night last week, while I was out with the girls, Bert called every 20 minutes and maxed out my voicemail with messages saying he loves me. I don't know what to do. This has escalated to the point I'm afraid Bert could become violent. What should I tell him?

Nervous in Maine

Stop evading Bert's calls. Tell him, "I know we're old acquaintances, but I'm not interested in any kind of relationship with you. Please do not call again." If he continues, speak to a lawyer and the police about a restraining order. He seems unable to face rejection.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2003, Universal Press Syndicate