DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m pretty old-fashioned in my views. I’m one of those girls who really doesn’t want to have sex until I get married; I like to take things slow.
I have been dating a nice man for about a year now, and he knows how I feel. Anyhow, he invited me to go visit his family for Thanksgiving. I want to go with him, but I don’t want to mislead him. He hasn’t asked me to marry him yet. I’m not sure what the point is in meeting his family when we haven’t made our intentions known.
Do you think we need to talk about our plans for the future before we go to his family? -- Clear Intentions, Raleigh, North Carolina
DEAR CLEAR INTENTIONS: That your boyfriend wants to take you to meet his family is a good thing. It means he takes the relationship seriously and wants to introduce you to the people who matter the most to him. You don’t have to be engaged to meet them.
At the same time, it is a nice idea to talk about the future with your boyfriend. It is wise to be on the same page when you meet his family. Someone is likely to ask you if you are planning to get married -- especially if he doesn’t usually bring people home to meet the family.
When you broach the topic with your boyfriend, don’t make it an ultimatum. Instead, tell him that you’ve been thinking about the upcoming trip, and you realize how important it is. You think it is smart for the two of you to talk about the future and what you might see down the line. Open the door. Be prepared to say what you want. If you think this is the man you want to spend your life with, tell him.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter just started high school, and her world has expanded dramatically. She has always had a good head on her shoulders, but I can’t help but worry about her a bit. She and her friends have a lot of unsupervised time after school. My rule is that she has to let me know where she is or where she is planning to go so that we stay connected. She hates this rule, but I know that kids can get into mischief without even realizing it. How can I keep her safe as she begins to explore her life as a teenager? -- Striking a Balance, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR STRIKING A BALANCE: The teenage years are a critical period in a child’s life, and parental guidance is important. It is also key for teens to begin to exercise independence. They will make mistakes, just as we did, but they need a bit of freedom in order to start making independent choices and learning from them.
What you can do is reinforce your rules about staying connected regarding her whereabouts. With smartphones, it is easy to text each other without her friends knowing what she is doing. A more invasive route is using a tracking app that will show you where she is at all times. They usually work fairly well as long as there is Wi-Fi service and she has the app engaged. A popular app is Life360.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)