DEAR ABBY: I am a teacher with more than 25 years invested in the lives of young people. You stress that parents need to provide their children with sex education because this is what will help them the most to make informed choices. May I present some pearls of wisdom from my experience and observations in working with youth?
Do all that you possibly can to help your children feel successful. Be their greatest fans. Encourage them to participate in activities that challenge and enrich them. Be generous with praise, both for efforts and accomplishments. Take time to write them special notes and look for cards to give them that contain messages of love and pride. (I still treasure the note my mother wrote to me when she felt she had neglected to acknowledge my hardworking efforts.)
Do things together. Hug them. Hug them again. The care and effort you extend to your children, in helping them build strong self-esteem, will generate huge dividends in the form of healthy, wholesome choices when they become teen-agers and young adults.
I can still hear my 30-year-old nephew telling us that as a child he always felt like a "good person" because we always told them what good kids they were. He became a teacher. -- STILL TEACHING AND TELLING THEM THEY'RE TERRIFIC
DEAR STILL TEACHING: Thank you for a terrific letter. I hope parents will take your message to heart. I was touched by the notepaper upon which your letter was written. Printed on it was: "GOALS. No one can predict to what heights you can soar until you spread your wings." How true.