Be a good pal in order to make a good pal

DEAR ABBY: I am a 9-year-old girl in third grade. I have problems making friends. Girls my age and older don't like me much. Boys my age and older seem to be fine.

I have three hopeless brothers I really don't like. My mom said I should tell you what I do like - math, science, dolls and TV. I have crazy hair.

Did you have this problem when you were my age? -YOUNG READER IN KOKOMO, IND.

DEAR YOUNG READER: Because you like math, science, dolls and TV, gravitate toward girls who like them, too. If you do, you may find that some of them are receptive. Remember - all you really need is one friend you can confide in.

At your age I wasn't part of the popular crowd. I was shy and terrible at sports, so I spent hours alone in my room reading. Books kept me company and widened my horizons beyond my immediate neighborhood. People at my school probably thought I was weird, too, but many people who become successful as adults start out that way.

I was self-conscious about my hair, too. It was curly and hard to handle because I hadn't yet learned to style it. But as I grew older, I learned to manage it - as I'm sure you will. And when I reached my mid-teens I found it easier to make female friends. I learned to be a friend when someone needs one, and practice character traits I admired in others, such as kindness and honesty.

DEAR ABBY: What should I do about my mother-in-law, who has been bumming money from churches for more than 20 years, even taking trips across the country taking money along the way?

I have contacted every church in our area. But they still give her money, which she blows mostly at casinos and on her non-working boyfriend. I will no longer have anything to do with them. -OHIO READER

DEAR READER: If you have contacted the clergy in your area about your mother-in-law's scam and they still give her money, you have done everything you can. Because you no longer want anything to do with her and her boyfriend, tell your wife she should see them without you.

DEAR READERS: Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and no Thanksgiving would be complete without my sharing the traditional prayer penned by my dear mother:

Oh, Heavenly Father,

We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.

We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service,

That Thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.

Have a safe and happy celebration, everyone! -Love, ABBY