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Posted on Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 5:05 a.m.

Discovery of dad's secret life can't be kept quiet

By Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I am a teenager who has recently discovered that my dad has been having sexually explicit conversations with women online for at least 10 years. He is usually withdrawn from the rest of the family, and I strongly suspect it's because he cares more about his online fantasies than he does about his life with my brothers, my mother and me.

I don't know what to do. I can no longer look him in the eye. I don't respect him; I pity him. I'm afraid to tell anyone in my family because of the drama it will cause, and don't want to tell him because I know it will change our relationship. Still, I don't think I can keep this to myself.

I have considered seeing a therapist, but I don't know how I can do that without giving my parents an explanation about why I'm going. What do you think I should do? -- CONFLICTED TEEN IN NEW YORK

DEAR CONFLICTED: You have been exposed to a large dose of information you shouldn't have, and for that you have my sympathy. If you feel you need to discuss this with a therapist, then you definitely should.

As I see it, you have several options. The first would be to talk to a counselor at school and ask if counseling is available that way. If it isn't, then tell your father you need it, and why. And if he refuses, tell your mother everything.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 23-year-old college junior, double-majoring in English and education. Although I am pretty advanced in my degree field, I'm having second thoughts about my decision. Every day it seems as if I invest all my time and energy into something I don't even want to be a part of.

I have a very adventurous spirit. I want to constantly be doing, going and discovering. Part of me says I'm an adult and I should ignore the explorer part of me. But it's hard to say that change isn't possible because we're talking the rest of my life. How can I connect passion with occupation -- especially at this stage of the game? -- GYPSY SOUL

DEAR GYPSY SOUL: By thinking out of the box. There are various options in the field of education, and one of them is teaching English in foreign countries. Start looking for opportunities in that area, and you may be able to also fulfill your urge for adventure. Another option that comes to mind would be joining the Peace Corps or Teach for America. Please consider what I am suggesting and do some research on your own.

DEAR ABBY: Is it ever proper to wear your napkin tucked into your shirt collar when dining out, instead of placing it on your lap? Traditionally, a napkin is placed on the lap to prevent soiling of the clothing, I would guess. But some plus-sized folks and women with large bustlines don't usually have food reach their laps, just their shirts. So what do you think? -- JUST WONDERING IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR JUST WONDERING: Your napkin belongs in your lap when dining out, regardless of what size you are. According to Emily Post, "an exception can be made for the elderly or infirm." So if you are neither of those, consider carrying a stain remover "pen" with you in case there is a slip twixt the fork and the lip.

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.