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by Abigail Van Buren

Glimpse of Teen's Diary Opens Her Father's Eyes

DEAR ABBY: The problem my husband and I face is probably not unique, but we desperately need some advice. His 16-year-old daughter is very loving and affectionate, but she's also easily led; consequently she's being taken advantage of by her so-called boyfriends.

"Stacy" visits us on weekends, so we have no control over her behavior during the week when the problems occur. She has been boy-crazy for a couple of years now, but I was shocked at what I read in an open notebook she left on her bed. Daddy's seemingly innocent little girl is not innocent at all. The notebook is a journal in which she has written her feelings and experiences -- in shockingly vulgar language. According to the diary, she has had many sexual encounters with three boys.

When I revealed what I had read to her father, he was devastated. We have had talks with Stacy about sex, but apparently to no avail. We fear that if we confront her, she'll stop spending weekends with us.

Her father and I know that her mother must be told what's going on, but Stacy is sure to feel betrayed when we spill the beans. Also, we fear the potential consequences Stacy will face from her mother.

To further complicate the problem, my husband would rather eat glass than talk to Stacy's mother because of her temper and inability to set aside her personal feelings to focus on what's best for this child.

Abby, how do we advise her mother with the least possible risk to our relationship with Stacy? -- NO NAME OR CITY, PLEASE

DEAR NO NAME OR CITY: Calm yourselves. What you read in Stacy's diary may not necessarily be true. Teen-age girls have been known to engage in creative writing in filling the pages of their diaries.

You and her father need to discuss this with her, and determine how sexually experienced she is. Begin by saying, "You left your diary open on your bed, and we have reason to believe you have become sexually active. No one was trying to pry. What shall we tell your mother?"

If Stacy is sexually active, she needs birth control. And repeat what she needs to know about sexually transmitted diseases and how to protect herself from them.

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter signed "Caregiver in La Canada," I had to write. "Caregiver" stated that she has family members in nursing homes across the country and is "unable to visit them as I'd like, although they are always in my thoughts and prayers. I would be horrified to discover that a nursing home staff member had given the name of one of my relatives to a stranger."

Well, Abby, I worked in a nursing home for years and saw firsthand how much it meant to residents to have a "real-live" visitor. I have also just completed chemotherapy treatments and have felt firsthand appreciation for real-live visitors and personal letters of caring.

While thoughts and prayers are wonderful, nothing says "I love you" like a hug! -- LINDA IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR LINDA: You're right on the money. Nothing teaches like personal experience. I wish you continued success in your recovery.

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