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by Abigail Van Buren

Sisters, Mom Hold Winning Hands for Weekend Getaway

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I recently discovered that my son and his girlfriend, "Lois," are sexually active. They have been seeing each other about nine months and both of them will be 18 in a few months. When her parents found out, they called us and the six of us had a discussion at our home.

Lois' father suggested -- and I agreed -- that they should stay apart for a time and think about their relationship and the consequences of sexual activity. At the time, I presumed that they would be allowed to see each other again at some point.

Abby, these are basically good kids. Neither experiments with drugs. Both get good grades and are involved in school activities. They are good people who made an error in judgment. I feel we must make sure they understand that sex is special and not for just anyone, and that they need to know the importance of safe sex.

My son told me today that Lois' father is considering not letting her leave for college in the fall, and her mother may quit her job to stay home to keep an eye on her during the day. What do you think? -- SAN FRANCISCO DAD

DEAR DAD: I think the young woman's parents have overreacted. They can't keep her under lock and key forever. They have failed to consider that their daughter will be 18 in only a few months and can legally move out of the house.

Your attitude is a far healthier one for all concerned. As much as they might wish to, they cannot protect their daughter from the realities of life -- and by age 18, sex is very much a reality to many people.