Dear Annie: I just started my sophomore year in college and plan on going through sorority recruitment. I've thought about the pros and cons and think it would be a good idea for me to join a sorority.

The problem is, last year, when I brought up the possibility of rushing a sorority, my father lost it. I barely got the words out before his temper flared about how bad an idea it was. At the time, I wasn't sure myself, so I just let it pass. But now I'm certain.

While it would be easy for me to hide it from my father, I really don't want to. We are very close. How can I break it to him? I wouldn't put my desire to rush above our relationship, but I would be terribly disappointed. Is there a way to make him understand my reasons? —At a Loss

Dear At a Loss: Your reasons are understandable — sororities provide friendships and a social life on campus. Many sororities do volunteer and charity work. What are Dad's reasons? Is he afraid a sorority will lead to excessive drinking? Sex? You need to know his concerns before you can convince him not to worry about you. Do the sororities have Web sites? Let your father see what they are all about. And if he can meet or speak to any of the sorority sisters, it will help.

Dear Annie: For the past few weeks, my 3-year-old son has been pulling down his underwear and touching himself. When he sees us watching, he immediately stops. I even saw him do it at day camp.

My husband and I have told him this behavior is wrong and something he should not be doing. We have tried everything from a calm voice to a stern lecture. Our friends say many children his age explore their bodies and this is just a phase.

However, we can't be there to monitor him at preschool and fear he may be dismissed from the program. Help. —Louise

Dear Louise: It's perfectly normal for a 3-year-old to touch himself. It feels good and he has no clue about the social ramifications of doing it in public. The preschool will not dismiss him — they've seen it before. Please don't make him feel guilty. Instead, explain that his body is private and it is not appropriate for him to do this where other people can see him. When you catch him at it, remind him gently to wait until he is in his own room and, when necessary, distract him with something else. In time, this, too, shall pass.

Dear Annie: Please tell "Help Needed" to cool off for a little while. Three years ago, my daughter went through the charade of being at college and telling me what great grades she was making while I was footing the bill. Her story became so embellished, I got suspicious and checked, only to find she had not enrolled.

I was livid and hurt that she would lie to me. Like "Help," I was ready to throw her to the wolves. Thank goodness a friend advised me to take a longer view. My daughter and I had a lengthy discussion and she was remorseful. As a result of her transgression, she got the "opportunity" to take out loans in her own name to fund her education. I was willing to help if she stayed in school. She graduated in two years and is now teaching. She is getting married in November and starting graduate school in January. She's paying off her school loans and is entirely self-sufficient.

I'm thankful to my friend and wonder how awful it could have been not to have my daughter in my life. Our relationship is just what a father-daughter relationship should be. —Been Through It in Georgia

Dear Georgia: We heard from many parents who said they were glad they didn't overreact and now have wonderful relationships with their very responsible adult children.


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate