Dear Annie: My daughter, “Ashley,” is divorced and has four children. She has had numerous volatile boyfriends. The last guy sliced the tires on her car.
Ashley says I need to mind my own business, so I have been quiet about her poor choices. But her latest guy is listed in the state registry of sex offenders for molesting an 11-year-old girl when he was 19. He served two years in prison and claims he is innocent. Ashley has been letting the guy stay at her house. He is unemployed and doesn’t need to be anywhere.
I am frightened for my grandchildren. I called the police, but they said there is no prohibition on having him live in a home with young children. The children’s fathers have been uninvolved and disinterested, but I’m wondering whether I should notify them of what’s going on. I also have considered calling the local child protection agency, but I don’t want them to take the children away from Ashley.
If I do any of these things, she may never speak to me again, and I might not get to see the kids. I will feel terrible if this guy harms those children. What can I do?
— Sitting on the Edge
Dear Sitting: You must put the children’s welfare above your relationship with Ashley. Call the local child protective agency and report the situation. They will investigate to see whether there is cause to remove the children. If so, it’s likely the kids would be placed with Ashley’s nearest relative: you. It also could be a wake-up call for Ashley to get the guy out of her house and pay more attention to the consequences of her choices.
Dear Annie: I received an invitation to a birthday party and was asked to bring a covered dish. I always thought the hostess furnished whatever refreshments were to be served. I must have slept through the new etiquette rules. If a hostess can’t afford to furnish refreshments, there should not be a party. Am I right?
— Some Etiquette, Please
Dear Some: If someone offers to bring a dish, it’s OK for the hostess to accept, but including a dish assignment with the invitation is inappropriate. People should have the parties they can afford. Most guests are perfectly happy attending a birthday party where only cake and ice cream are served.
Dear Annie: “Mom” thinks her 11-year-old is too young for sex information. As a teacher with 25 years of experience in a rural town, I have found that most parents are stunned to find out how openly the kids talk about sex in school.
I urge all parents to be sure they have the final birds-and-the-bees talk with their children before they begin elementary school. That’s what I did with my daughter. We used examples from nature for her preschool sex education. When her friends later talked about sex, she felt free to come to me for clarification. We taught her: Don’t lie down with your boyfriend, don’t take any clothes off, no “fooling around” in the bathing suit area, and don’t unzip anything. She saved her virginity for marriage.
There are now five types of STDs that are drug resistant. For this generation, extramarital sexual activity is extremely dangerous. It is possible to teach children to delay sex until marriage by putting the focus on “What is the wise thing to do?” rather than what is right or wrong. Teach your children that it is wise to first get an education, then a job, then marriage, then children.
I have volunteered for 10 years with a program that teaches kids non-judgmental education about how humans are sexual beings in all aspects of life. Most children are incredibly receptive and innately recognize why being wise is beneficial. If we are not allowed to speak to these kids until high school, they chide us for not telling them earlier.
— Proactive Tennessee Sub
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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