DEAR ABBY: I'd like to comment on a letter you reprinted from a mother who taught her 13-year-old daughter about sex, sexually transmitted diseases and the various forms of birth control. As a result, perhaps she helped her daughter prevent an unwanted pregnancy or disease. Your response was that "every daughter should have a mother like you!"
I couldn't agree more. I work in the Children's Court in Los Angeles and often deal with the consequences when children, those who are underage and those who may have attained majority but are still immature, have children.
However, I wish you had added that "every son should have a mother like you." When a child is conceived, it has both a mother and a father. When diseases are transmitted, it takes two to accomplish the transmission. Parents of all children should do exactly what "North Dakota Mom" did: Educate their children so that they can make informed choices. -- ROSEANN HERMAN, ATTORNEY-AT-LAW, LOS ANGELES
DEAR ROSEANN: I agree with you that it's vital to educate young people so they can make informed choices. However, not all parents agree with us. I'm sorry to say that I received mail from parents who felt that explaining to the girl about contraception was tantamount to condoning premarital sex. I couldn't disagree more with that philosophy, which I fear is a recipe for disaster. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I just finished reading the letter in your column about the mother who talked to her 13-year-old daughter about sex. I, too, talked to my daughter, Lucy, about sex -- and she listened. I did not want her to place herself in danger of getting a sexually transmitted disease, or of having a baby she was too young and too poor to care for.
My daughter was in special education all through elementary and high school. Some of our relatives would call her "slow" behind her back, but she listened to me when I talked to her about bad choices when it came to sex.
My daughter is now 29 years old and does not have any children as yet. Out of our family -- myself, my sister and two adult nieces -- Lucy, "the slow one," is the only one who graduated from high school without having a baby. She is the only one who did not have to rely on food stamps or AFDC for a child she couldn't afford. I tell her she is a treasure for any man, even though some of our relatives have had the gall to say to her that if she doesn't "use it, she will lose it."
When I became pregnant at 16, I was very ignorant about sexual matters. My mother expected my sister and me to learn what we needed to know from friends. When it was time for me to be examined by a doctor for prenatal treatment, I had no idea I would have to remove my underwear. I can still hear the nurse snapping at me that I was wasting the doctor's time because I hadn't already done so.
My two children suffered because I couldn't get a well-paying job with only a high school diploma and no child support. Parents need to talk to their children about sex and not assume that someone else will do it. Don't leave them in the dark. Not only do their lives depend on it, so does a newborn child's. Neither my son nor my daughter has had children out of wedlock or is dependent on government handouts. -- SHERRY IN GLENDALE, ARIZ.
DEAR SHERRY: If your letter doesn't convince parents that it's wise to give their children early and thorough sex education, nothing will.
You may have gotten an early start at motherhood, but you are a caring and conscientious parent.