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Dear Abby: I'm a 17-year-old girl and a junior in high school. I have a crush on a guy who's 14 and a freshman. I know age gaps don't matter as much later on, but the difference between 17 and 14 can be drastic. "Jake" is really sweet, and he's as interested in me as I am in him (unlike the boys in my grade).

I'm friends with Jake's sister "Julie," who's a year older than me and a senior. Julie has made it clear she doesn't like the idea of a romantic relationship between Jake and me because Jake is only 14.

What can I do? Should I ignore this crush? I have judged people who have dated despite age gaps. (For example, a senior boy dating a sophomore girl.) But now I understand it. If the girl is older, does that complicate things?

I don't want to be seen as creepy or gross, but, to be honest, I'm not that experienced romantically or socially myself. (I have never even been to a real party.) Must I forget my feelings and move on, or do I talk to Julie and try to pursue this?

-- Teen Crush

Dear Teen Crush: Julie has already given you her answer. As you have pointed out, there is a bias against dating someone so much younger, and it could cause you problems not only with your peers, but also with the law if your relationship were to become sexual when you turn 18. That's why I'm suggesting you turn your romantic interests elsewhere. When you're both adults, if you're still interested, you can pursue a romantic relationship then.

Mom should chill

Dear Abby: My fiance and I are being married in a few days. We are expecting our first child a few days after that. The problem is my mother. We decided on a small ceremony, but my mother is opposed to the marriage because she doesn't like the idea of me marrying -- not just my fiance, but anyone. She has always told me a man will leave me destitute, pregnant with too many kids, and I won't be able to take care of myself. She has repeated it since I was about 10.

Because she has threatened to object at the ceremony, we decided not to invite her. We have invited his parents and my father and stepmother. Mom has said she will not allow my child to see her grandfather because "he is a bad person." She may have good intentions, but dictating who can be around my child is not her choice, considering she has had little to no contact with him in 25 years.

I wish she could be at our wedding, but she has now distanced herself from me and my fiance. Should I let her cool off and hope she comes around, or accept that this is the path she has chosen? Please advise, Abby.

-- Problem Mother in Kentucky

Dear Problem Mother: Your mother may be anti-marriage because hers failed spectacularly. She appears to be a troubled woman. By all means, let her cool off, but do not allow her to dictate your life. If she does, her anger and bitterness could negatively affect your marriage.

Veteran’s Day

Dear Veterans: For your service to our nation, I salute you. My thanks to each of you, as well as to the brave men and women still on active duty, some of whom are in harm's way. You are the personification of patriotism and self-sacrifice for your dedication to our country. I would also like to recognize your families for the sacrifices they, too, have made.

Love, Abby

* * *

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Dear Abby is written by Jeanne Phillips for Universal Press Syndicate. Write to Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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