I was reading Dear Abby two days ago (October 17th's column), and I felt like she got it wrong to both letters. It happens sometimes. The full text for both is at the end of this. I'm too lazy to track down the actual link, I admit, this morning. I get it in my e-mail box as I said.
Nothing a Box of Condoms Can't Solve
The first letter is about a step-mother concerned about the sexual activity of her 15 year old stepson, or rather his natural parents' response to it. He's having unprotected sex. It sounds like for the most part none of the parties, including the letter writer, have so much of an issue with the boy having sex - boys will be boys - so that's not an issue to focus on here, or there. That's just a given.
The letter writer is concerned about the normal things you should be concerned about ANYONE having unprotected sex. STDs, unwanted parenthood... and feels between a rock and a hard place because her husband doesn't seem to worry about it and the mother hasn't done anything either. She's wondering if she's over-reacting, and Abby assures her she isn't.
There are some questions - unanswered here - about a relationship between a step-parent and child and their responsibility to nonetheless parent them. There are some questions about how long they have been in this relationship of step-parent / step-child and what kind of relationship, then, that they have. Whether she has the rapport, position, and relationship to act like a parent. And those can be touchy issues - and she touches on them when she's concerned about upsetting her husband in doing anything.
Abby agrees that she's not over-reacting, but basically says unless the husband / father does something, nothing can be done, and the boy will play baby-roulette.
Really, Abby? I understand encouraging her to have a talk with the boy may be over-stepping her bounds, although that might be a good start for her to sit down and explain her own concerns to him one-on-one. But frankly, okay, again I can respect that might not go over well with Dad (although....?), the solution is simple. Go to the drug-store. Buy an economy-size box of condoms, and leave them on his bed. MAYBE the reason the boy is having unprotected sex is that he's too embarrassed to go to the drug store and buy some? Or can't afford them? I understand young boys seem to find condoms anyway, but maybe give him a big hint and a big box of condoms. Duh!?
Now, again, I say this because it appears from her letter the issue isn't him having sex, merely having unprotected sex. If the issue were him having sex, or the parents not wanting to deal with, encourage, or otherwise address sex at all, then maybe that might be inappropriate.
What's The Big Deal With Letting Them Hang Free?
No, not talking balls here. Although I understand with the transition, you could go there. There, yes, there is something with letting them all hang out.
The second letter I have a real issue with - personally - because if I were young and dating a guy named Daryl, she could be talking about me. Oh, and if my name were Michelle.
The second letter writer is concerned about her son's young girlfriend's support / clothing choices. Michelle is sweet, caring, smart and funny. (See why I thought she might be writing about me?) But *gasp* doesn't wear a bra. And she isn't flat chested. Yep. Except for Daryl and the being young thing, describes me to a T.
WTF? Okay. I can understand having issue with it if she wears really tight shirts and her headbeams are on (sorry.. immature streak coming through there) all the time, leaving nothing to the imagination. But even wearing a bra doesn't guarantee that nips won't poke through. Personally, I always wear an undershirt to keep the girls from pointing in all directions, and even then...
But I have had several friends amazed that I don't wear a bra, and somehow concerned? The girls might drag? They ain't at my belly button yet. And anyone who has played with them has never complained. I don't have any particular desire for them to be perky, and really they haven't since they were little buds when I was 13. My breasts are fine.
I get questions like doesn't it hurt to not wear a bra? Well, um, if it did, I probably would wear a bra, now wouldn't I?
Abby suggested a polite conversation at lunch and an offer to go lingerie shopping.
I've been bra shopping with my friends - and even bought a bra to satiate them, but I wear it very infrequently. I will wear sports bras, only because the girls don't need to develop muscles going up and down, too. But really only when running. I don't need one for cycling, or other exercise.
But even suggesting "lingerie" shopping belies an underlying "purpose" for bras - as something sexy underneath. Really?
I admit the twitterpool is a bit skewed for scientific inquiry, but I've met a lot of women on here who go bra-less on a regular basis - not just #wineparty - and a lot who wish they could. I don't criticize those who choose to wear bras, and I understand many do *need* to - again, had Abby said "support" shopping, I'd have a different response to THAT part - so why criticize (and it's only women who give a damn) those of us who don't? Jealousy? Are men really that unable to control themselves around a bra-less woman? I've never had any issues...
But we're all allowed an off day. Even Abby.
DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old stepson, "Justin," doesn't drink or do drugs. For the most part, he stays out of trouble. The problem is, he has been caught for the third time having unprotected sex.
My anger isn't at Justin so much as at his parents, obviously his father. Justin has lied repeatedly about this. His father lets him get away with many things, for the most part minor. But this is different. A 15-year-old boy can't take care of a baby, and having sex with multiple partners means exposing everyone involved to STDs.
My husband is a smart man, but for some reason he seems to think this will end well. I worry about his son becoming a father too soon and missing out on his full potential. My husband and his ex have dealt with this by trying to ignore it, and for the most part I haven't involved myself. But the more I think about it, the more I see the danger of Justin's life being changed forever because his parents don't want to make him unhappy for a minute.
I love my husband and stepson. Allowing this to continue isn't the right path for anyone. Am I overreacting? If not, what can I do that won't cause a huge blowup with my husband? -- ALARMED IN CHICAGO
DEAR ALARMED: You're not overreacting. Your husband is doing his son no favors by enabling his irresponsible behavior instead of asserting himself and acting like a parent. Justin may think that fathering a
child will make him a "real man." But unless your husband can get through to him that real men take care of themselves and their partners, and real men don't risk bringing children into the world theycan't take care of, then face it: He's letting his son play baby roulette, and it's only a matter of time until he'll be a grandpa.
DEAR ABBY: My son has a wonderful girlfriend, "Michelle." They live with my ex-husband and visit my husband, "Daryl," and me twice a month and on special occasions. Michelle is sweet, caring, smart and funny.
The problem is, she doesn't wear a bra. Ever.
Relatives have commented about it to us at family gatherings because she's not flat-chested. We already know. It's obvious. Daryl feels a woman should go without a bra only in the privacy of her own home, and I agree. He thinks I should buy Michelle a bra as a "subtle hint." I don't think that's wise, and I don't want to offend her.
Because it doesn't seem to matter to my son, should we continue to keep our opinions to ourselves? -- SEES A NEED FOR SUPPORT IN FLORIDA
DEAR SEES A NEED: Because people are talking, it would be a kindness to say something to Michelle -- but delicately, so she doesn't think you are criticizing her. If you have a good relationship with her, invite her to join you for lunch and, while you're on the subject of the last gathering, mention that some of the relatives noticed her bralessness.
Then tell her that you need to go lingerie shopping and invite her along. Ask her to help you pick out a few pretty things for yourself, and then offer to treat her to some things she likes. She just may take you up on it.