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DEAR ABBY: My son, "Drew," is almost 19. My problem is I found sex toys under his bed. He has had a steady girlfriend, "Lindy, for a year. I have questioned them about their closeness. He says they've "fooled around" a little, but Lindy wants to wait until marriage for sex. I told Drew when he first started seeing Lindy to take it slow and not to pressure her.

My son and Lindy spend a lot of time alone together, and I worry about what might happen. Now, having found these "toys," I'm confused.

I threw them away and left him a note where he'd hidden the toys, saying that these things are unnecessary, especially for an 18-year-old -- and besides, they aren't the real thing. There were toys for both sexes, so that leads me to believe that Lindy may use them also. (They looked quite new.)

I want to believe that if they aren't sexually active, Drew feels these are necessary. I know all teenagers are curious, but I didn't think the curiosity would advance past men's magazines.

Was I wrong for being upset and throwing his toys away? Should I try to talk to him about this, or should I have his father talk to him? (I am the parent with the discipline and responsibility. My husband just lets everything go.) -- CONFUSED MOTHER IN FLORIDA

DEAR CONFUSED MOTHER: Earth to Mother! Children become interested in and curious about sex even before puberty. A few decades ago, puberty would occur around ages 13 or 14, but in recent years children as young as 10 or 11 are becoming sexually mature.

Your son is no longer a child. You should not have thrown his property away without first discussing the matter with him. As for your "talking to him about this," I think you have already done enough. However, it's time your husband had a serious man-to-man talk with him.

Whether or not Drew and his girlfriend are having sex now, they are having a sexual relationship. Once things are hot and heavy enough to involve sex toys, the real thing is sure to follow.

So please take your head out of the sand and make absolutely certain that your son AND his girlfriend know the importance of birth control -- and how to use it. Do not procrastinate, or before you know it, someone could be calling you Granny.

DEAR ABBY: I am 23 and live at home with my parents. My boyfriend is 24, and also lives at home.

His mother has given him a cruise for his birthday, and he would like to take me. However, my parents don't believe in premarital sex and have already told me I cannot go away with him -- that only as a married couple can we travel together alone.

I do not want to miss this trip. I would love to spend this kind of time with my boyfriend. I love him very much, but my parents limit our time together. Is there a way to get around this? -- RESTRICTED IN OCEANSIDE, N.Y.

DEAR RESTRICTED: Yes. Invite a chaperone or get married.

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