Teen Talk

Kelly Richardson: Readers offer advice on teens

DEAR READERS: Mailbag time. Thank you for all the great responses to recent Teen Talk columns. I hope you all have enjoyed your summer and if you are a student, you’re well into thinking about the school year — under way for many — and setting goals for yourself. Keep reading Teen Talk and please keep letting me know what you think. Your opinions really do matter.

DEAR KELLY: I saw the title of the column about a granddaughter whose grandmother was recently moved to a care facility. I appreciated your advice to the granddaughter. I hope the granddaughter follows through with the suggested activities for caring actions. It makes us all sad when a family member gets to the point where this kind of move is necessary for the safety and health of the person we love. It does help to do the kinds of caring things you suggested. Requests to go home are not uncommon. The advice I received was to distract the person with an activity, a discussion of other topics, etc. I was told that the request to go home often is precipitated by a desire for “life as it used to be” and not necessarily a request to “go home.”

Thanks for such a wonderful and thoughtful response to that young woman.


DEAR KELLY: Your response to the teen who was concerned about her grandmother’s placement in a “home” was wise and would be of benefit to the grandmother and daughter.

However, you missed a key point. You did not make any acknowledgment of the young woman’s parents who had been forced to place the grandmother.

The family members who disagree with the decision to place may well only see Grandma in the chair taking a nap; without any understanding of what it took to get grandma in the chair or of the risks of continued independent living. The responsibility of providing for an elder is a constant struggle and receiving complaints from a teenager who has been “fueled” by the elder complaints only makes the entire situation more difficult.

My understanding of this young woman’s parents is a result of years of supporting an elder in my family in her wish to remain at home. My recommendation to you is, please consider the entire family in your future responses.

–Sylvia Y

DEAR KELLY: I wanted to address the comments of ‘‘more than just the other girl’’ from a slightly different perspective. One of the things that ‘‘second fiddle’’ missed was that she was objectifying her friend just as much as the boys seeking to use her as a conduit to her friend. She talks about how ‘‘pretty and skinny’’ her friend is and dismisses her with, ‘‘she doesn’t play sports or get good grades.’’ Wow, so the only thing she has going for her is her appearance? She isn’t good at the arts, or funny, or a terrific listener? Or maybe she is just kind, middle school is not for the fainthearted and having someone who is nice to you is a pretty powerful aphrodisiac.

Boys at this age are naturally drawn to attractive girls as their hormones have kicked in, but perhaps they like your friend because they feel they can talk to her, maybe she has brothers and understands the things boys are into and they have things in common.

I also want to point out that it is not her fault that she is attractive.

While I agree that ‘‘second fiddle’’ needs to work on valuing herself, she also needs to look at her friend as someone who cares about her and is not spouting platitudes when she says that she is pretty.

If they have been true friends since second grade, she sees the real you, the one that the boys haven’t yet taken time to know, and she sees your beauty in and out, don’t be in a hurry to dismiss that. We usually only get a few chances in life for that kind of friendship, and someday down the road you will need that friend who you don’t have to explain your life story to, and she will need you too.

–Mom of an early bloomer

DEAR KELLY: Your Teen Talk column regarding the boy who doesn’t want to have ‘‘the talk’’ with his father was right on target. I wish that I could have had such a talk with my father who was dead when I was 141/2 and particularly as an only child, I could have benefited enormously from such a talk.

While you are on the topic of parent-child relationships, one of my biggest regrets is that I never really talked to either parent in any depth.

It wasn’t until the last 10 years or so that I realized I have only three photographs of my father, only a few more than that of my mother, and not one photograph of them together.

There are dozens of questions I would have, should have, asked my mother while she was still alive. How did my parents meet, etc.? I know they met when they were both students at the University of Oklahoma. I never heard them argue or saw them kiss and really knew nothing about them.