DEAR ABBY: Will you please reprint this letter? My wife and I have saved it for many years. If it helps some young ladies, we will be happy. -- ROBERT KLIPPEL, SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR ROBERT: The letter you sent appeared in my column on Dec. 11, 1991, and I'm pleased to run it again.
DEAR ABBY: I wrote you in June about my 13-year-old daughter. (I told you she was getting dangerously close to the boyfriend she had been seeing morning, noon and night.)
I took your advice and spoke to her about sex. I purchased at the local drugstore several forms of birth control (condoms, contraceptive sponge and vaginal suppositories). I also bought something called a "teen pack." It contained several trial-size items introducing young females to such things as tampons, mini-pads, maxi-pads, shaving lotion and razors for shaving legs. When I got home I invited my daughter to join me at the kitchen table. My husband was working late that night, so it was a perfect opportunity for girl talk.
I lined up the contraceptive devices on the table. I gave her the teen pack, telling her that all the items in that package were things that we had previously discussed. Then I pointed to the other items that we needed to talk about.
I carefully explained to her that now she had become a young woman having a monthly period, she could become pregnant if she had sex. I then told her that I was in no way condoning sex in someone as young as she, but that I wanted her to be informed. I then took each product and explained how it was used, and showed her the directions and how to check the expiration date on the product. After that, I opened each package and let her touch the device, examine it and ask questions.
I made sure that she was aware that even if she was on the birth control pill, it would not prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. I told her that safe sex with condoms could not guarantee the prevention of pregnancy and disease, and the only way to ensure not getting pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease was not to have sex.
I then took the remaining products and placed them in a box in her bathroom closet. I told her I would not check the box, but if she ever felt a need to experiment, they would be there. I stressed that she could always come to me before making any decisions that would change her life forever.
I made some important points to her that truly hit home: I pointed out that she was too young to obtain a driver's license, too young to drink, too young to get a job, and too young to be responsible for the life of another human being. I reminded her that if she were to have a child, her education and social life would cease until such time that she could afford a baby sitter.
Abby, I realize this letter is long, but I wanted you to know how I dealt with this issue. After our talk, my daughter has been a different person!
I trust my daughter, and your advice was a big help in dealing with a very difficult situation. I realize that I have a long way to go in completing the journey through her teen years, but I believe that we, as a family, will survive. -- NORTH DAKOTA MOM
DEAR MOM: Thank you for writing. Every daughter should have a mother like you!