Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Parents' Reluctance to Discuss Sex Disturbs This Candid Mom

DEAR ABBY: I hope that by printing this letter it will make other parents do some serious thinking about their relationships with their teens.

My neighbor's 17-year-old daughter and the daughter's 16-year-old girlfriend spent two hours talking to me about boys and sex. The 17-year-old is thinking about having sex with her boyfriend. While I certainly did not encourage it, I did talk openly about safe-sex practices and birth control. I also explained why it would be better if she waited until she is older and more mature.

What bothers me the most is, why aren't these girls talking to their own mothers? The girls are friends of my teen-aged sons -- that is how they know me.

Abby, it isn't my place to talk to them about these things, but since I'm the only one they trust, I won't betray them. My sons and I are very open with each other, and we discuss everything they have on their minds.

I wish more parents would listen to their kids -- even if what the kids say may shock and dismay them. Parents shouldn't judge -- they should just be there for their children. -- SOMEBODY ELSE'S MOM

DEAR MOM: The neighbors' kids are talking to you because they are not comfortable talking to their own moms (or dads). How lucky for them that you are there for them.

Unfortunately, not all parents are comfortable talking to their teens about safe-sex practices and birth control. Some may even resent the fact that their children are getting information from a neighbor (you) that they, their own parents, would be reluctant to give them.

I say, if kids ask -- they are old enough to know. What our children don't know can hurt them.