DEAR ABBY: Do you have any information or advice on how to talk to my 12-year-old stepdaughter about sex? I have a pretty good idea about where to take the conversation. I don't plan to make it a big deal -- not so serious as to scare her, but not too lighthearted either. You never know what kids are saying about it in school these days. I want her to know the door is always open should she need to talk. (My mother did that with me, which I appreciated.)
If you have any pointers or reading material suited for her age, that would be great. -- STEPMOM IN TEXAS
DEAR STEPMOM: I'm glad you are opening up the subject because "the talk" with your stepdaughter should have started long ago as part of an ongoing discussion. For a variety of reasons, young people today mature much earlier than they did years ago. She should be told that, if they haven't already started, the changes that will take place in her body are normal and nothing to fear.
As for reading material, my booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know" can help you to start that conversation. It has been distributed in doctors' offices and used to promote discussions by educators and religious leaders, as well as parents who find it hard to discuss these topics with their children. You can order one by sending your name and address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to Dear Abby Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. You should review it before starting the conversation so you will be prepared in advance to answer her questions. The more information you can give her, the better prepared she will be to make intelligent decisions in the future.