DEAR ABBY: I had planned to wait until my daughter was 12 and in the sixth grade to teach her about sex. Unfortunately, she was given a very thorough, graphically described education by a playmate. At the time, her playmate was in second grade. My daughter was in the third grade. I was devastated. Not only did I feel she was too young, I felt robbed of an experience that should be cherished between a mother and daughter.
I strongly believe that parents should decide for themselves when to teach their children about sex, and the children should not have the experience forced upon them. The playmate's parents like to think of themselves as progressive and nonconformist. When I confronted the mother, she deflected by becoming offended that I would assume they weren't responsible parents. She defended her daughter by saying, "Kids will talk. I'm sure she wasn't out to ruin your daughter's world." Am I wrong to be so offended? -- OFFENDED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR OFFENDED: Yes. Children do talk, and 12 is far too late for them to start learning about sex. By then they have probably received an abundance of misinformation about it from their friends. Children are naturally curious about the world around them. That's why "the talk" should start as soon as a child begins asking questions. The facts don't have to be given all at once; the conversation should be ongoing, with more information added in an age-appropriate way.
DEAR ABBY: My "boyfriend" and I are in our mid-40s. Three-and-a-half years ago he was in a bad accident. Because our relationship seemed to be getting serious, he moved into my house. He was planning on returning to construction work a few months later, once his doctor cleared him. Unfortunately, the doctor said he would never be able to resume work in construction. He applied for Social Security Disability and, after two years of paperwork and waiting, he was denied.
He keeps himself busy by painting pictures. Occasionally he sells one or two paintings online or through art shows. However, what he earns is not nearly enough to support himself. I had to take a significant pay cut at work, and I'm having a hard time supporting both of us. My savings are being depleted, and my credit card balance is skyrocketing.
I have told him repeatedly that he needs to get a job. He's not totally disabled. He could work -- he just can't go back to construction. He insists he's going to make it big selling art. I tell him art is his hobby, not his career. I have also told him that I'm a financial wreck and that I'm going to lose my house, but he doesn't care. He says, "Buy a smaller house."
I tell him he has to get a job or move out, but he doesn't do either. I'm ready to sell my house and live in a small apartment by myself. But I can't get him to leave. What can I do? -- OVER THIS IN ILLINOIS
DEAR OVER THIS: Because this man has lived with you for so long, getting him out of there may take the help of a lawyer. He's not an artist; he's an ingrate and a freeloader. Although you are having financial difficulties right now, it will be money well spent. Please don't wait.