Dear Annie: I have an 11-year-old daughter, and I feel she may know more about the “birds and bees” than she should because of what she sees on TV and hears on the radio.
It seems that every time I turn on the radio, we hear a song with the word “sex” in it multiple times. When we watch TV (even so-called family shows on family-oriented channels), we see people passionately kissing or using words like “penis” and “vagina.”
What do you think of sharing information about sex with preteens?
Dear Mom: By the time a child is 11, she should know plenty about the birds and the bees, presumably because her parents have explained things to her. And she should also know the correct terms for parts of the anatomy, including the private parts.
Parents often wait to discuss these things with their kids, not only because they are uncomfortable doing so, but also because they believe their children don’t need this information until they are older and educating them will somehow encourage them to have sex. This is not true. It only means your child will get his or her sexual information from unreliable and misleading sources — friends, the Internet, songs on the radio and messages on TV. Teaching your child about sex, with your own moral values attached, will allow her to respond appropriately to situations when she encounters them — and she undoubtedly will.
When she hears something objectionable on TV or the radio, use it as an opportunity to explain your feelings on the subject. And you always have the option of changing the channel, setting parental controls or turning it off.
Dear Annie: In the three years that I’ve been with my boyfriend, I’ve become very close with his family. My boyfriend’s brother, “Scott,” has two children, ages 9 and 5. My concern is that they have no heat in their house. They say they periodically cannot afford the bill. Instead, they use space heaters in the bedrooms.
I get that the economy is tough, and I’m not saying I’ve never turned off my heat, but I don’t have young children. Their mother somehow manages to get her hair done at the salon every month, but the kids can’t play in the family room because it’s freezing. Is this considered neglect? I don’t want to jump to conclusions.
Dear Oregon: You are kind to be concerned about these kids. Assuming those space heaters are working properly and there are no fire hazards, however, they do not seem to be in any danger of hypothermia. Are they dressed warmly? Can they bundle up in lots of blankets? Do they have other places to go that are heated — the grandparents’ house, school, libraries, etc.? Your boyfriend also can inform his brother that Oregon, like other states, offers assistance with heating bills for low-income families. He can check online or call 2-1-1 for local resources.
Dear Annie: I would like to assure “Too Clean” that she is not alone. My friends call me “Mrs. OCD,” but my logic is that anyone can visit my house at any time, and I don’t have to be concerned. It’s always clean.
And like “Too Clean,” travel is stressful for me. I break out in hives anytime I have to go long distances, and I’m traumatized if I have to use the restroom away from home. I find it easier when I keep my mind and hands busy, so I take my laptop and play games, look at photos, read and do crosswords. With today’s technology, it is easy to entertain my overactive brain. This is my own form of therapy.
Dear Wyoming: Thanks for the great ideas.
Annie’s Snippet: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], 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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