DEAR READERS: Mailbag time. Thanks to all who have written to me and shared their stories or opinions. Here are a few letters I have received about some recent Teen Talk columns:
HI KELLY: Great article about high school seniors. So many school traditions are on the wane because kids are in such a hurry to grow up and "get out."
You are spot on – those traditions, friends, influential coaches and teachers help define a lifetime. Hopefully the class of 2013, my son included, slows down enough to soak it all in and realize what a special time in their lives today is.
HI KELLY: I just read your column re: teenage girl is 'kinda" sure she's ready for sex. As a mother of four, I would be very angry if that was the only advice you gave my daughter.
Shouldn't the message also have been that she is a minor and needs to get through high school? Even if she is 18 and a straight-A student, high school is challenging and a sexual relationship should be very far down the list of things to do. There is no doubt that starting a sexual relationship would be a major distraction, regardless of how mature she is.
Don't get me wrong. I agree with what you said in part, but shouldn't we as adults and role models set a higher bar for our children than the "think it over and make sure you make the right decision" speech?
Honestly, I give children all the respect in the world to be their own person, make the right decisions, etc. But I really feel the best advice we can give our teenagers is to help them find the most successful paths to the rest of their lives, help them get their priorities straight, then support them and accept them regardless of what they decide.
KELLY: Shouldn't you use the word "abstain" when it comes to giving advice to teens about sex? Tell them the truth: They are not old enough to have sex and should focus on other things like school, family and spirituality.
Why rush it? Whatever happened to the idea of waiting until marriage?
Wouldn't that be the best advice for you give to a young person who is "kinda" ready for sex?
HI KELLY: I'm a mom with an 11-year-old daughter. I enjoy your column very much – your advice is very insightful. I'm just writing because your column reminded of something I heard on NPR.
It was an interview with (Supreme Court Justice) Sonia Sotomayor. She described how she would pursue things she couldn't do, such as swim and dance lessons, even if she never got very good at them. She also had a cute story about practicing for throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game.
I recommend that you listen to it because it's very much in line with your article and may be helpful to your point.
DEAR KELLY: Thank you for your column. I read it all the time and agree with you often. However, I'm prompted to add my two cents about the column of the mom who won't eat in front of others.
The story from the daughter shrieks of an eating disorder on so many levels. How do I know? My own daughter is in recovery for bulimia nervosa and was in intensive treatment for many months. Our family received treatment as well as much education. Avoiding eating with other people is one of the symptoms of an eating disorder. The mom's constant remarks about her weight and that of her daughters are another.
I bet if you showed the column to the therapists and doctors at my daughter's treatment center, they would agree the mother is suffering from ED.
I could go on and on, but in my humble opinion, this mom needs help. It's not just about a social phobia.
I fear the daughters will grow up to have their mother's skewed perception of weight and beauty.