DEAR READERS: Here are the final reader responses for Teen Talk columns in 2012. Thank you to all who asked questions, all who responded with their opinions and all who wrote to just say that they read Teen Talk every week and appreciate the column.
If you are a teenage reader, please write and share with me your New Year's resolutions or any changes you might want to make in your life in 2013.
I wish you all a healthy, joyous and fulfilling 2013.
New Year's tips: Be grateful for what you have, instead of what you do not. Tell those around you who matter that you appreciate them. Let go of old angers; they do nothing but weigh you down. To forgive is to free yourself. Make sure you stop counting the days and focus on making the days count.
DEAR KELLY: I wanted to thank and commend you for the information that you provided to the young person asking how to talk to a schizophrenic cousin. Your response was educational on many levels and provided that young person with good options for moving forward. I specifically appreciate the fact that you noted that the best thing anyone can do is educate themselves. Far too often our naive society responds to uneducated fears involving mental illnesses.
By providing this young person the tools they need to learn more about mental illness, you have increased the chances that his or her cousin will have the chance to receive the support that is so badly needed to succeed.
As the parent of a young man living with bipolar disorder, I have seen what a difference it can make to have family members close by who are not afraid to be present in his life, who can offer support, even if they are not quite sure what exactly is needed. Just being there is what counts.
DEAR KELLY: As the mother of four teens and young adults, I am troubled by the response to the teen who wrote to you about her boyfriend's obsessive behavior about her perceived "cheating." While you properly and correctly pointed out that her behavior was not "cheating" and that she needed to examine her alcohol use, you ignored her boyfriend's harassing behavior. In fact, you focused on ways she could placate him.
She describes incessant text and phone messages from him, demanding to know who she's with and what she's doing. If she were 20 years old, instead of 17, you would most likely have pointed out her boyfriend's obsessive, controlling behavior and that this is a clear warning sign of a potentially abusive relationship.
You missed the opportunity to ask her if this is how a relationship should feel and that she needs to clearly and firmly explain to her boyfriend the harm that his behavior is causing. If he doesn't stop (and maybe he can only do that through therapy), then she owes it to herself to end the relationship. His sense of ownership will only grow worse if not stopped.
HI KELLY: I have been holding your article on teen suicide now for more than two months, intending to let you know how much I was touched by it.
I am not a teen, but I love people, and the thought of so many young people contemplating suicide or feeling so alone shocked and saddened me. To know there are people in our community who just need someone to listen and care and let them know that tomorrow will be better, yet not know who they are, so we can help, is horrifying. I think your message ought to be sent to all the schools in our area. It ought to be addressed at every community meeting.
No one should be left out. No one should feel unloved. It is not acceptable. There are enough loving people around to make a huge difference to others' lives. Thank you for being one of those people. Thank so much for the work you do. There are not enough eloquent words to express the importance of your words to young people.