DEAR ABBY: A few months ago, my husband was promoted, but it required our relocating to another state. Our daughter, "Alicia," is an honor student and involved in many activities. Because she's a junior in high school, she was reluctant to change schools in the middle of the year. My mother-in-law, "Claire," lives in the same school district, and offered to let Alicia live with her after we moved. Alicia and Claire are close, and my husband and I thought it was a good plan.
Last week, we flew in to surprise Alicia at her "sweet 16" birthday party. We were shocked to see our daughter answer the door smoking a cigarette. Alicia admits that after we moved, she was curious about smoking and asked Claire (a pack-a-day smoker) for a cigarette. Claire has been buying Alicia cigarettes ever since. (Claire says she doesn't like to smoke alone.)
Abby, I don't know who is more to blame -- Alicia for starting to smoke, or Claire for encouraging it. I am ready to take Alicia back with us, but my husband disagrees. He says while she made a foolish mistake to start smoking, Alicia is no longer a baby and should be able to make her own decisions -- even if they are bad. I admit I used to smoke as a teen-ager, but it took me 20 years to quit. I don't want my daughter to have the same struggle. Any suggestions? -- CLEARING THE AIR IN NEW YORK
DEAR CLEARING THE AIR: Your daughter isn't the only teen-ager to try smoking. What's unusual is that her smoking was encouraged by her grandmother. You are right to be concerned about her grandmother's poor judgment.
However, I see no reason to panic. I urge you and your husband to have a long talk with Alicia and Claire -- set some specific ground rules -- and then allow your daughter to finish her junior year living with her grandmother. You can revisit the question of her accommodations for her senior year during the summer.
P.S. Contact the American Cancer Society and ask them to send the facts and information about the health dangers of smoking to BOTH Alicia and Claire. They could use some education.
DEAR ABBY: "Hurt and Mad in Okemos, Mich." asked you about taking legal action against a former boyfriend who had given her a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Her gynecologist had told her that the STD could cause cancer. You advised her to see an attorney.
Here's another piece of advice: She and her ex-boyfriend should have their heads examined! Twenty years into the AIDS pandemic, people engaging in unprotected sex with someone whose sexual history and health status they do not know as well as their own risk far more than an infection that might lead to cancer. And yes, that applies equally to those who engage in "serial monogamy" (being faithful to a series of partners, one at a time).
Although "Hurt and Mad" did not say whether she and her ex had engaged in sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs, too many people still do. Abby, PLEASE remind your readers that this practice increases risks for unplanned and unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancy, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and other STDs. -- RODGER L. BEATTY, Ph.D., PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LESBIAN AND GAY ADDICTION PROFESSIONALS
DEAR DR. BEATTY: You're right. You put it short and sweet, and that's why I'm printing your letter.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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