DEAR ABBY: I have guardianship of my 12-year-old grandson. He has recently fallen head over heels for a girl in his class and wants to date her. I am out of touch with the younger generation, and I'm not sure how to answer his questions, like, "Does the boy or girl initiate the kiss?" I would appreciate knowing about any pamphlets or brochures you have for sale on this subject. Thank you. — MARGARET O. IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR MARGARET: Kids are maturing at younger ages than when we were growing up. Part of the reason may be that television, movies and the internet have exposed them to subjects we were not when we were their age. That said, not all of the information they receive from the media and their friends is accurate.
I'm glad you asked because I have a booklet that may be helpful. It's titled "What Every Teen Should Know," and it's filled with information on subjects such as, "How to know when you're ready to date," "Are you ready for sex?" "How old must a boy be before he can father a child?" and "Can a girl get pregnant the first time she has sex?"
A section on sexually transmitted diseases is also included. Because STDs need to be treated right away and ignoring or not recognizing the symptoms can have lifelong consequences, there is a list of the various STDs and what to do if you have one. You can order a booklet by sending your name and address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL, 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. The Teen booklet has been distributed in doctors' offices and used to promote discussions by educators and religious leaders, as well as parents who find it hard to discuss these topics with their children.
Review it BEFORE giving it to your grandson, so you can prepare beforehand to answer his questions or guide the conversation. The more information you can give him, the better prepared he will be to make intelligent decisions in the important years that lie ahead.
DEAR ABBY: I am in my 80s. From time to time, when I have tried to contact a dear old friend or distant relative, I find they have recently passed away. Don't you think it would be a good idea for older people to make a short list of people we want contacted in case of serious illness or death? So many times our survivors have no idea who some of our friends are or how to contact them. — GARY G. IN GEORGIA
DEAR GARY: I think your idea is a sensible one. The list should include not only names, but also contact information. Thank you for sharing this with me and my readers because — let's face it — nobody lives forever.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.