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 daughter’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.
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 parent-sanctioned 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.
DEAR RECOVERED: Great insight. Thank you.