Dear Abby: My daughter, who recently turned 21, sent me a two-word text message, “I’m pregnant.” She has been dating a marijuana-smoking young man for less than a year, and I’m disappointed by this outcome.
Her sister, who is a year older, already has two children by two men. No, they weren’t raised by a harlot. I adopted them when they were early elementary-aged children. It’s not my fault. I’m disgusted by their choices.
I haven’t talked with her yet. I won’t try to lecture her or tell her how she should live her life. The time for that is over. I feel it would be best to say nothing if I can’t be positive. Suggestions?
In the South
Dear Disgusted: It would be better if you said nothing to your daughter while you are angry, or you may say something you will regret. It would not be out of line, however, to text her back and ask, “How do you and ‘John’ plan to support the baby?” If you don’t plan to help her in any way, you should let her know now she’ll be on her own.
Dear Abby: Our 13-year-old is addicted to her phone. She stays on it for hours, and it’s affecting the time she goes to bed. She’s now starting to oversleep the alarm in the morning before school.
She’s spoiled, and I’m afraid that removing or limiting phone privileges will lead to major problems with her protesting it. I don’t want truant officers or social workers coming to my house because my wife and I can’t discipline our kid. How do you handle a spoiled brat without involving outside agencies? She’s nice to people in school, but is lazy at home and totally self-centered.
Frustrated, Exhausted Dad
Dear Dad: You and your wife created this “monster,” and now it’s your job to make things right. Of course your daughter won’t like it when you set rules, but you must establish some for her before your lack of parenting causes even more serious problems.
Set the rules and stick with them. If she won’t follow them, there should be penalties for not doing so. Try this: Start with homework. When it’s done, she can have her phone for a period of time. Inform her that if she oversleeps because she was up too late on her phone, you will take it at bedtime. And then follow through.
Dear Abby: I’m about to be 17 and just started living with my mom after being a runaway for three months. During that time, I made friends with people who were not good for me. However, I still feel I need to cling to these people and be there for them.
As I write this, one of the girls I was closest to is in prison and will be there for a long time. I have to pretend to be fine and act as if I don’t care for her, but I do, desperately. My mom refuses to be understanding and talk about anything with me. I don’t know what to do.
In Little Rock
Dear Teen: Your mother appears to belong to the ostrich school of parenting. If she doesn’t hear something, it doesn’t exist. Clearly, you DO need to talk with someone about the feelings you’re experiencing and why you feel the need to “cling to these people.” Because your mother can’t/won’t do this, it’s important that you talk to a counselor at school and ask for the help you need.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.