DEAR HARRIETTE: I overheard my daughter talking to her boyfriend the other day. He was pressing her to take topless photos to send to him. They are seniors in high school, and I know that they have engaged in some degree of intimacy. I’m not so happy about it, but I know this is true. But sending nude pictures is a bad idea and will likely lead to embarrassment -- or worse -- for her. How can I get her to listen to me when she already thinks she is grown? -- Drawing the Line
DEAR DRAWING THE LINE: Ideally you should be in constant conversation with your daughter about life choices and cause and effect. As she is growing up, she needs to have your family’s values repeated to her often so that when she makes decisions, she can hear your voice in her head.
In this case, be direct. Tell her that you overheard her conversation with her boyfriend. Point out that you weren’t snooping, but you did hear it, and you are concerned. Explain to her that sending nude pictures via the phone or computer can be dangerous for a number of reasons. For starters, once the photos leave her device, she no longer has control over them. Anyone may potentially see them, leaving her vulnerable to ill-meaning people. If discovered sometime down the line by the wrong people, it could hurt her chances to get into the college of her choice or the internship or job she has been longing for.
She probably doesn’t know that it is also considered child pornography if she is under 18, and both she and her boyfriend could get arrested if it were ever discovered by the police. Strongly suggest that she not take this action. It will be bad for her and her boyfriend in the long run.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m really concerned about how much I drink. Ever since we have been quarantined at home, I have been drinking more than ever. I know it’s too much, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I have even taken to ordering from my local liquor store and having them deliver once a week. I know it’s because I’m bored and lonely, but I need to stop. What do you recommend, given that I am stuck in my house? -- Alcoholic
DEAR ALCOHOLIC: Congratulations on taking the first step to helping yourself. It takes a lot to admit your vulnerabilities. By stating what you know to be a problem and asking for help, you are setting yourself up for success. The good news is that there are online resources that can support you. A trusted source is Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization of people who are working to become sober and stay that way by talking to each other about their lives and their challenges. They now offer virtual meetings. Go to aa.org/pages/en_US/options-for-meeting-online to sign up. You can also call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline at 800-662-HELP, or go to their website for support, samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline. Good luck to you.
(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.)