DEAR ABBY: This is difficult to write. My sister reads her children's text messages after they're asleep. She bragged to me about how popular her daughter "Naomi" -- my 14-year-old niece -- is because she's giving oral sex to the boys.
My sister claims Naomi isn't "having sex," so she thinks it's OK! I am shocked by her ignorance and terrified knowing that Naomi is putting herself at risk for STDs. My husband says if I confront Naomi it will drive her away, but I can't remain silent and watch my niece ruin her life. What's the point of reading your children's text messages if you're unwilling to stand up and be a parent? What can I do? -- TERRIFIED FOR MY NIECE IN THE SOUTHWEST
DEAR TERRIFIED: Your sister's parenting skills are appalling. Her daughter isn't "popular"; she is promiscuous -- and her mother is allowing it. Do your niece a favor and talk to her, because oral sex is sex, and she is putting herself at risk for a number of sexually transmitted diseases.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council has a wealth of information resources and tools for addressing this important subject. Its website, �HYPERLINK www.familiesaretalking.org ��www.familiesaretalking.org�, helps with discussing sexuality-related issues and provides information for young people, parents and caregivers.
Other reliable resources include Planned Parenthood's �HYPERLINK www.teen-wire.com ��www.teenwire.com� and the American Social Health Association website, �HYPERLINK www.iwannaknow.org ��www.iwannaknow.org�, which is also a safe place for teens to learn about sexual health.
DEAR ABBY: I was raised a Christian, but now that I am older I am questioning my faith. I consider myself an agnostic, borderline atheist.
The problem is I am married and a father. I want to raise my children to be open-minded and tolerant, but I don't know how I should go about it. How do I answer the question, "Is there a God?" when I myself am not sure? Have you any advice on the subject? -- AGNOSTIC DAD IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR AGNOSTIC DAD: Many deeply spiritual people are agnostic. The way to raise open-minded, tolerant children is to talk to them about your values and model that behavior for them. Parents convey their values verbally and by demonstrating them. As to the question, "Is there a God?" you and your wife should discuss that question in advance so she can have some input and you can handle this together.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter-in-law is eight weeks pregnant. The problem is, she carries the gene for cystic fibrosis. One of her siblings is a carrier and another has multiple sclerosis. I advised my son that it didn't seem to be a good idea to get pregnant, but they both appear unconcerned about the repercussions.
Should I mind my own business and hope for the best? Or should I be worried about the future health of their expected child? -- WORRIED GRAMMA-TO-BE
DEAR WORRIED: As a loving grandparent, you will always be concerned about your grandchildren's welfare. What you should do is suggest that your son and daughter-in-law discuss their family medical histories with her OB/GYN and take their lead from the doctor. (If they haven't already done so.)
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-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)