DEAR ABBY: My sister has decided to let her 14-year-old son have a girlfriend. This is contrary to every value we grew up with as kids into adulthood.
She has met the girl's parents and says they "immediately clicked" and she knew right away that they share the same morals. The parents now set up situations where the two kids can get together. Not only have my nephew and the girl bonded, but the parents have become fast friends.
I see no problem with a little puppy love that happens in school, but is it asking for trouble when parents start to create dating situations when kids are so young? What happens if they are eventually allowed to be alone? Or one of them wants to break up but is afraid to hurt not only the other, but also the parents?
My sister says she's "guiding her son through his first romance." I say an eighth-grader is too young and she's inviting a myriad of problems. We have fought over this because she says I'm not being "flexible" and because this hasn't happened to my child yet. I offered my opinion only after I was asked what I thought of my nephew's girlfriend after she posted pictures on the Internet. Am I right to think this is crazy, Abby? -- SANE AUNT IN GEORGIA
DEAR SANE AUNT: Let's just say it is ill-advised rather than crazy. But I agree that your sister is headed for trouble because she isn't allowing her son's "first romance" to develop naturally.
First love often peaks and burns out quickly. When there are two sets of intermeshed parents involved, it can lead to lasting hurt feelings and sometimes enmity.
However, if you think your sister is going to listen to either of us, you're dreaming. So quit offering unsolicited advice and stay tuned for what's coming because there are lessons to be learned for everyone involved.
DEAR ABBY: I am getting married this year and I'd like to challenge the notion that it's rude to ask for gifts toward a honeymoon or other big-ticket items such as home improvements or a car. My fiance and I own our home and we don't need a lot of the traditional items couples receive at their wedding.
Our families have been very understanding, but I'm sick to death of hearing or reading that it's rude to ask for money. Shouldn't wedding guests be happy to celebrate the couple in a way that they need and not force them to register for a bunch of material things they won't use? -- ALREADY HAS A BLENDER
DEAR ALREADY HAS A ...: Your question is very common. I receive variations on this theme in every batch of mail that arrives.
It is considered rude to ask for money on a wedding invitation, just as it is considered rude for brides and grooms to raise the subject themselves. When a wedding invitation is accepted, the guests usually contact whoever issued the invitation to inquire where the couple is registered. Once asked, it is then appropriate to reply, "They're not registered for gifts because they already have everything they need, but monetary gifts would be appreciated."
Some couples set up financial registries for this purpose with their bank or other financial institution, and there are also honeymoon registries and charitable gift registries if guests would prefer to donate to a worthy cause chosen by the happy couple.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)