DEAR ABBY: I had planned to wait until my daughter was 12 and in the sixth grade to teach her about sex. Unfortunately, she was given a very thorough, graphically described education by a playmate. At the time, her playmate was in second grade. My daughter was in the third grade. I was devastated. Not only did I feel she was too young, I felt robbed of an experience that should be cherished between a mother and daughter.
I strongly believe that parents should decide for themselves when to teach their children about sex, and the children should not have the experience forced upon them. The playmate's parents like to think of themselves as progressive and nonconformist. When I confronted the mother, she deflected by becoming offended that I would assume they weren't responsible parents. She defended her daughter by saying, "Kids will talk. I'm sure she wasn't out to ruin your daughter's world." Am I wrong to be so offended? -- OFFENDED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR OFFENDED: Yes. Children do talk, and 12 is far too late for them to start learning about sex. By then they have probably received an abundance of misinformation about it from their friends. Children are naturally curious about the world around them. That's why "the talk" should start as soon as a child begins asking questions. The facts don't have to be given all at once; the conversation should be ongoing, with more information added in an age-appropriate way.