DEAR ABBY: I have guardianship of my 12-year-old grandson. He has recently fallen head over heels for a girl in his class and wants to date her. I am out of touch with the younger generation, and I'm not sure how to answer his questions, like, "Does the boy or girl initiate the kiss?" I would appreciate knowing about any pamphlets or brochures you have for sale on this subject. Thank you. -- MARGARET O. IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR MARGARET: Kids are maturing at younger ages than when we were growing up. Part of the reason may be that television, movies and the internet have exposed them to subjects we were not when we were their age. That said, not all of the information they receive from the media and their friends is accurate.
I'm glad you asked because I have a booklet that may be helpful. It's titled "What Every Teen Should Know," and it's filled with information on subjects such as, "How to know when you're ready to date," "Are you ready for sex?" "How old must a boy be before he can father a child?" and "Can a girl get pregnant the first time she has sex?"
A section on sexually transmitted diseases is also included. Because STDs need to be treated right away and ignoring or not recognizing the symptoms can have lifelong consequences, there is a list of the various STDs and what to do if you have one. You can order a booklet 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. The Teen booklet 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.
Review it before giving it to your grandson, so you can prepare beforehand to answer his questions or guide the conversation. The more information you can give him, the better prepared he will be to make intelligent decisions in the important years that lie ahead.