DEAR ABBY: I am a single father of teenage boys. I have always played an active role in my children's lives, physically, emotionally and financially. My older son lives with me; my younger sons live with their mother.
I am bisexual and have always been attracted to both men and women. It took me a long time to admit it to myself. I suffered from depression for many years as I struggled with my sexual identity. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with HIV. Since then, I have been on medication and live a very healthy lifestyle.
None of my children knows about my sexuality or my diagnosis. I have wanted to tell them for a while now, but I can never bring myself to do it. I'm afraid that if I tell them, they'll be ashamed of me and it will add unnecessary stress in their lives. On the other hand, I'm tired of keeping secrets. Furthermore, I worry about the possibility that they could find out from someone else.
All four of us will be together for an event in a couple of months. I feel this could be a good opportunity to tell them. Or should I tell them on their own, individually? Am I selfish for wanting to tell my children? Or am I foolish for not telling them? -- KEEPING SECRETS
DEAR KEEPING SECRETS: If your children ask you about your health or your sexual orientation, do not lie to them. However, I see no reason for you to make a blanket announcement about this now because I sincerely believe that most young people do not care to know.
If you wind up partnering with another man, they will at some point begin to draw their own conclusions. If your health takes a turn for the worse, they will need to know your status. Until then, my advice is to keep mum.
DEAR ABBY: I want to get my belly button pierced this year for my 15th birthday, but my parents said no. It's just getting my belly button pierced. They let me dye my hair and get my cartilage pierced -- so why not my belly button?
It's not going to affect my parents whatsoever. It's my body. I think they should let me do reasonable things to it, like get my belly button pierced. I just don't get it. -- UNPIERCED IN WISCONSIN
DEAR UNPIERCED: Your parents may be afraid that if you get your belly button pierced you will want to expose that area of your body to show it off -- and they would prefer that you dress more modestly until you're older. They could also be concerned that your piercing might become infected. Whatever their reason, as a minor, you should not get anything pierced without their permission.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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