May 24, 2014 at 1:00 am

Dear Abby: Jeanne Phillips

Teen initiates 'the talk,' but mother dodges it

Dear Abby: I’m 16 and entering my junior year of high school. My boyfriend, “Jonah,” and I have been dating for almost a year and we would like to become sexually active, but I’m scared condoms won’t cut it. I have tried talking to my mom about it, but she doesn’t think I should go on birth control.

Abby, I’m just trying to keep the risk of getting pregnant as low as possible. I’m not sure my mom understands that. What should I do? I know for sure my mother will find out if I go to my doctor and talk privately about this with her. Please help me because I’m just trying to protect myself.

Practical Teen in New York

Dear Practical Teen: You appear to be a levelheaded young woman who is trying to make mature decisions. Discussing sex with parents can be difficult — not only for you, but also for them.

If you are willing to talk about this with your mother again, try using a magazine, a TV show or my column as a jumping-off point to start the conversation. Sometimes it may take more than one talk to feel comfortable disclosing your personal feelings and intentions.

You should be able to get confidential health services from your doctor or another health care provider. Depending upon where you live, however, parental permission may be needed. Find out.

In terms of birth control methods, hormonal birth control is effective when used correctly. But using hormonal birth control and a condom TOGETHER offers the best protection from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

For many years, I have recommended Planned Parenthood (plannedparenthood.org) for reproductive health services, which include info, contraception, testing and edu­cation about a full range of options for women, men and teens across America. Its services are confidential and comply with relevant laws, which may vary from state to state.

Some Planned Parenthood centers scale their charges according to income, and most accept health insurance. Your local Planned Parenthood health center can give you info about costs and policies. If you qualify, Medicaid or other state programs may lower the costs.

Dear Abby: I have been dating “Dawn” for more than a year. She has an amazing 7-year-old daughter, “Charise,” who started calling me Dad about six months after her mother and I began dating. I love being a “dad” — going to the park, on trips, helping out at school and telling bedtime stories.

The problem is, I don’t love Dawn. We don’t get along well anymore. My mother tells me I should find someone else and have kids of my own, but Charise “feels” like my kid. I can’t imagine losing her.

One friend suggested I marry Dawn so I can stay in her daughter’s life, but I want to be in love with the woman I marry. Am I wrong for not wanting to lose a child I consider my daughter, but not wanting to marry someone I don’t love?

Spinning My Wheels

in California

Dear Spinning: Charise may “feel” like your child, but she ISN’T. And even though she may call you “Dad,” you AREN’T. Your romance with her mom is already on the slide, so the kindest thing you can do for all concerned is end the relationship. But before you do, it is important that you make clear to Charise that it has nothing to do with her or your feelings for her.

Your mother is right. You need to settle down with someone you can love. To follow your friend’s suggestion would be a huge mistake.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.