DEAR KELLY: My sister is very promiscuous. Our parents are divorced and our mom is an alcoholic who will sleep with anybody, even with my sister and me sleeping in the next room.
On the other hand, I am determined not to be like our mom or my sister. However, their reputations, especially my sister's, have rubbed off on me. I'm known as the "slut's sister" at school and am teased about it.
Also, many kids assume that I'm also a slut.
The decent guys (and many girls) want nothing to do with me and the guys who are jerks make sexually suggestive comments to and about me. My best friend's mom won't let her come to our apartment for sleep- overs any more because of my sister's reputation, and she doesn't want her daughter to be exposed to "someone like that."
I've done nothing wrong, but am being made to suffer. Please help.
– No Slut
DEAR NO: Your letter brings up two feelings: Sadness for the way you are having to live and hope for the awareness you have about your future.
You are living in a world of such chaos with an alcoholic mother who makes poor choices around her daughters and a sister who has labeled herself based on her poor choices.
And yet you are wise and smart enough to see what they are doing and willing yourself not to do the same.
Good for you to have the determination to want to change your family pattern and learn from the mistakes your mother and sister are making.
Living in such an emotionally confusing world is difficult. You need to be supported in your decisions to be different and not act out based on all the chaos in your life.
Is your father around? Do you have grandparents who live close, or a close aunt or uncle? Is there any family around who can offer you support and guidance as you navigate ahead?
If you feel like you don't have a lot of family support options, you need to talk with your school counselors. Make an appointment to go speak with them and share what you shared in your letter. Let them know your mom is drinking too much and exposing you and your sister to her sexual choices.
See what kind of support the counselors can offer.
Perhaps they can connect you with a Alateen group where you can talk with other teenagers whose lives are affected by alcohol. Together you can discuss how to cope with the drinking, share stories and difficulties, and help each other through the process.
The school counselor might have other suggestions of places you can find more support. He or she also will be able to check in on you during the school year to see how you are doing and if anything new has happened with your family.
If you aren't comfortable with the counselor, go talk with your favorite teacher.
It stinks to be judged based on the actions of others. You don't deserve the treatment you are getting at school and the boys' behaviors to you sound like sexual harassment. By sharing this with the counselor, you might be able to get some support if you are being targeted by others.
Go talk with your best friend's mom. Perhaps she doesn't allow her daughter to sleep over because of your mom, not because of your sister. Give her a chance to share her concerns because they might be very valid.
Your mom's decision to excessively drink would cause parents to be cautious of letting their children hang out at your home because they are concerned about the amount of supervision your mom will offer.
If that is the case, it is a valid concern. Don't take that as judgment of you but rather as a consequence of your mother's poor choices.
Perhaps after hearing how you feel about your life and the choices you do not want to make, maybe your best friend's mom will open their home to you for sleep- overs and she can become a person who offers you support in your decision to make better life choices.
You are correct that you haven't done anything wrong. You live in an environment that is full of unhealthy decisions.
But you also sound like a resilient and wise young person who knows not only how you want to act, but more importantly how you do not want to act.
Get the support you need so you can rise from this a stronger person and create the kind of life you can be proud to live.
Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email email@example.com.