DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter talks to me about her life, including telling me about what her friends are doing relationship-wise. For the most part, they are still “innocent” -- meaning no sex, at least among her close friends. What they call “hooking up” is what my generation used to call “making out,” i.e. kissing and touching.
I’m relieved to know that my daughter hasn’t taken it further. She tells me she hasn’t met anyone yet to even do the hooking up with, but it feels inevitable. I’m trying to remember my teen years so that I can stay cool. I haven’t told her to wait until marriage or risk going to hell, but I do want her to wait. How can I convince her that she doesn’t have to rush into anything? -- Coming of Age
DEAR COMING OF AGE: Rather than instilling fear into your teenager, which rarely works in a healthy manner anyway, talk to your daughter about her body as her sacred vessel. Tell her that if she thinks of her physical being as precious, it will be easier for her to resist the hormonal temptation to be intimate before she is ready. Recommend that at the very least she refrain from sexual activity until she is in a committed relationship where she and her partner love each other. Note that it takes time and experience to reach that level in a relationship.
Meanwhile, it’s OK to hook up occasionally as she is discovering herself and her interests. Just be mindful of what her limitations are, and encourage her to make them known to whoever she is with. Also, remind her that she can always come to you to talk or for help without judgment.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I reminded my son and my husband to get me a Christmas gift this year, and they did, but it was such an afterthought that it might have been better to get nothing. I have told my husband so many times that I care that he gets me something. Now that we have a son, it matters because I want my son to know that he should be thoughtful in gift-giving to his mother and any future partners.
Still, I became the last-minute gift recipient of one lame item while I spent days and weeks figuring out multiple items to get each of them. I know Christmas has passed, but I want them to understand how disappointed I am that they didn’t make me a priority. -- Afterthought
DEAR AFTERTHOUGHT: Rather than letting your hurt feelings fester, you should tell your family how you are feeling. Call a family meeting. Tell your husband and son that there is something on your mind that you need to address. Start by asking them how they enjoyed their Christmas this year. Ask them what their favorite gift was. Remind them of how important this holiday is to you and that you take gift-giving seriously. Tell them that while you appreciate that they got you something, it hurt your feelings that clearly little to no thought went into it. Point out that you believe you deserve for the family to be more attentive and thoughtful when it comes to you. Remind them that you spent a lot of time and effort getting what you thought were the perfect gifts for them. You would have appreciated even the smallest effort on their parts.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)