DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old daughter, "Jessica," is mature for her age and a straight-A student. She is entering her freshman year of high school. She is an avid reader, and I have recently found cause to be concerned about what she's reading.
Abby, Jessica is reading adult romance novels that feature what I consider to be content that is too mature and erotic for a child her age to read. I have told her to stop buying them, but I know she's still sneaking them into the house because I found some when I went into her room to clean.
What should I do? I'm uncomfortable about her reading this type of material. What will it do to her future relationships and her judgment of what's acceptable and not acceptable in those relationships?
We have argued over this. Jessica says there is nothing in the books that she didn't already know about, and having learned about sex and relationships in school, there is no reason why she shouldn't be allowed to read what she wants.
Is she right? Am I being overprotective? Or will her current reading choices cause future problems? -- NERVOUS IN BERNARDSVILLE, N.J.
DEAR NERVOUS: Your letter reminded me of the days of my youth when our housekeeper used to loan me the True Romance magazines she kept stashed underneath her bed. My mother might not have approved, but most people seem to think I turned out all right.
Literature may have become more risque than years ago, but these days the chances of sheltering your "mature, straight-A student" are slim. Rather than censor her reading, stress to her that if she has any questions about anything she can come to you for straight answers. (You could also keep the channels of communication open by asking her to lend you the books when she's finished reading them.)
Some might argue that the idealized depiction of romance, and women being "rescued" by powerful, wealthy men, is more worrisome than the sex and eroticism. However, if you are raising your daughter to respect feminist principles, I don't think you have anything to worry about.
DEAR ABBY: I am 22 and in college. I have been dating "Andy" for two years. He is also a college student and somewhat of an introvert.
Two years ago, Andy's parents gave him a video game for Christmas. There is a monthly payment to play it. Well, Andy got hooked. He has spent thousands of hours on this game. When he crawls out of bed in the morning, the first thing he does is go to his computer to "check things." He plays many hours a day.
It was OK in the beginning. I thought that I'd rather see him at home playing games than out getting into trouble with some other girl, but it has gone too far. Andy is 21 and he needs to get a job. His parents have told him so, over and over. But all his energy gets devoted to the game, and very little into looking for employment or even being social.
Many people have expressed their frustration with his gaming so much, but to no avail. Should I talk to Andy's parents about how bad it has become and suggest that maybe they stop paying for it? By continuing to do so they are only enabling him. Or should I let them figure it out on their own? -- WORRIED SICK IN SANTA BARBARA
DEAR WORRIED SICK: By all means you should bring this to the attention of Andy's parents. It appears their son has become addicted to the "rush" he gets from playing the video game, and he may need professional intervention to overcome it.
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