DEAR ABBY: I am 19 and the mother of a 4-month-old son. I have a high school diploma and some vocational training. I was accepted into college after my high school graduation, but decided not to go away to school so I could stay with the man I love. Had I gone, I would be in my junior year.
Luckily for me, a local company took a chance and gave me a job where I earn fairly good money. However, if I could do it over again, I would go away to college and gain the credentials for a career with good financial prospects.
Because I speak from experience, I have something to say to parents: Try to have a close, honest relationship with your children. Educate them about sex. Stress how important abstinence is, but also teach them about birth control and how to use it effectively. Do not just tell them to "abstain"; explain WHY they should. My mother told me not to have sex. However, she didn't impress on me why I should wait. Now I have a child I'm struggling to take care of.
To young people, I say: Don't do what I did. Complete your education. Take some time growing up. Live a little before starting a family. Believe me, there's plenty of time to have children when you are mature.
I love my son, but it would have been better for both of us if I had waited until I was more mature and had finished my education. -- STRUGGLING IN GEORGIA
DEAR STRUGGLING: Once the rose-colored glasses come off, there's nothing like the clarity of 20-20 hindsight. I hope that parents and teen-agers will take your letter to heart. It contains some important truths.