Ask Amy

Dear Amy: My mid­dle-school daughter re­cently came out to our fam­ily; we are all very sup­port­ive of her. She has a girl­friend the same age, and the girl­friend’s fam­ily does not know of their daugh-

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Amy Dickinson

ter’s sex­u­al­ity.

The girls want to have a sleep­over to cel­e­brate a birth­day, and I am in­clined to say no to this.

I wouldn’t let any of my other chil­dren have a boyfriend/girl­friend sleep over at this age. The girl­friend’s par­ents may ques­tion why, but I feel it is not my place to tell them.

If I al­low the sleep­over, and the par­ents later find out that I knew the sit­u­a­tion, there could be fall­out.

— Worried Mother

Dear Worried: I agree that you should not per­mit this sleep­over. I also won­der if mid­dle school is a lit­tle early to be hav­ing a par­entsanc­tioned ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship.

If your daughter is in mid­dle school, I take it that she is in sixth, sev­enth or eighth grade. Aside from hav­ing crushes, did your other chil­dren have boyfriends/girl­friends at that age? This is the first is­sue I would clear up with her. And yes — I agree with your logic that ro­man­tic cou­ples don’t have sleep­overs in your house.

It is not up to you to out this other girl to her par­ents. How­ever, you should en­cour­age her to be open, if it is safe for her to do so. She may be less sure of her sex­u­al­ity than your daughter is, and you should not push her, or do this for her.

I ap­plaud your sup­port­ive at­ti­tude to­ward your daughter. But it is as im­por­tant for you to dis­cuss re­la­tion­ships, dat­ing and sex­ual be­hav­ior with her as it would be with any other child her age.

Dear Amy: I am 14 years old and cur­rently on an ex­change stu­dent pro­gram in Italy.

My last week (of six) has ar­rived. My par­ents have sug­gested that I skip school (with some­one) and buy a train ticket to ei­ther Rome or Pisa to go sight­see­ing for the day.

They say it would be so sim­ple, but I am feel­ing very un­cer­tain.

I have ex­plained to my par­ents that I’m not com­fort­able with this idea, but they are pres­sur­ing me.

I am a rule-follower, have a horrible sense of di­rec­tion and do not speak Ital­ian. I do not re­ally trust any of my class­mates and am scared of all of the ob­sta­cles.

The kid I’m stay­ing with also has a bad sense of di­rec­tion and is even more pro­tected than I am. My par­ents haven’t talked to my host fam­ily about it. Should I do what my par­ents want?

— To Break or Not

Dear Break: Your par­ents aren’t in Italy. You are. Do not do any­thing you think is un­safe — or that you don’t feel com­fort­able do­ing. You can imag­ine that your folks want you to max­i­mize your ex­pe­ri­ence in beau­ti­ful Italy, but they should not be pres­sur­ing you to play hooky and jump on a train.

I am just like you: care­ful, and also ter­ri­ble with di­rec­tions. I would be so ner­vous about all of the de­tails — and worried about get­ting lost, and feel­ing horrible about ly­ing to my teach­ers — that I would not have a good time on my out­ing.

You have a duty to be­have in the way you think is best for you. Al­ways lis­ten to your gut. This is good prac­tice for other so­cial and risk-tak­ing pres­sure you will face through your teen years. Be true to your­self. That way, you’ll al­ways know who to credit for your good times, and who to blame for your mis­takes.

Dear Amy: I would like to re­spond to “Still the Anx­ious Child,” who asked how she can get past the his­tory of abuse she suf­fered by her par­ents. Here’s how I suc­ceeded in do­ing just that.

Over 30 years ago, I went to a psy­chol­o­gist, told him my his­tory and he said one sen­tence that changed my life: “Peo­ple who are abu­sive are that way be­cause of their need to be abu­sive, not be­cause of any­thing you say or do. There is noth­ing you can say or do to make them stop.”

I was dumb­struck. The next time my fa­ther started in over the phone, I kept re­peat­ing to my­self, “There’s noth­ing you can do.” I re­mained silent. My fa­ther even­tu­ally said to me, “Are you there?” I said, “Yes.” Then he said, “And you have noth­ing to say?” I said, “No.” And that was the last time he did it. — Re­cov­ered

Dear Re­cov­ered: Great in­sight.

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