Dear Abby: Do you have any information or advice on how to talk to my 12-year-old stepdaughter about sex?
I have a pretty good idea about where to take the conversation. I don’t plan to make it a big deal — not so serious as to scare her, but not too lighthearted either. You never know what kids are saying about it in school these days. I want her to know the door is always open should she need to talk. (My mother did that with me, which I appreciated.)
If you have any pointers or reading material suited for her age, that would be great.
Stepmom in Texas
Dear Stepmom: I’m glad you are opening up the subject because “the talk” with your stepdaughter should have started long ago as part of an ongoing discussion. For a variety of reasons, young people today mature much earlier than they did years ago. She should be told that, if they haven’t already started, the changes that will take place in her body are normal and nothing to fear.
As for reading material, my booklet, “What Every Teen Should Know” can help you to start that conversation. It has been distributed in doctors’ offices and used to promote discussions by educators and religious leaders, as well as parents who find it hard to discuss these topics with their children. You can order one by sending your name and address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to Dear Abby Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. You should review it before starting the conversation, so you will be prepared in advance to answer her questions. The more information you can give her, the better prepared she will be to make intelligent decisions in the future.
Dear Abby: I am a 25-year-old, well-educated woman, engaged to a wonderful man. Although we don’t plan to wed for another couple of years, I have a question on my mind. Neither of us is traditional or religious. What should I do about my name?
My fiance would be honored if I took his name, but wouldn’t be insulted or hurt if I didn’t. For a long time I had thought that hyphenating would be an appropriate solution, but the more I consider it, a long double name on everything I will have to sign might become an inconvenience. I don’t dislike his last name or have strong feelings against taking it, but I like the name I have now. Part of me likes the idea of always carrying it.
Since children are not going to be part of the equation, there’s no risk of confusing them or their teachers. What do other young couples do? I would love an outside perspective.
Name Game in Kansas
Dear Name Game: It is no longer unusual for women to retain their maiden names after marriage. Many choose to do it because they have become established/successful in their careers, others because they want to maintain their identity as an individual.
Some women solve the problem by using their husband’s name legally and retaining their maiden name professionally. Others use their maiden name as a middle name and their husband’s last name. Please don’t worry about this; you have time to make your final decision.
Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.