DEAR AMY: I am about to graduate from high school. I am very happy with my college choice and I am majoring in STEM, so I am looking forward to being part of the growing group of young females in the scientific world; however, I have concerns about the social changes in college. I have always been a good girl who stayed away from boys in high school to focus on academics. As a result, I have never had a boyfriend, or even my first kiss. I have heard countless stories about college hook-ups, relationships, etc., and I am nervous about this aspect of college. I know college can be a time to “explore your sexuality,” but I am conflicted about this. I am not completely against it if you find the right person, but I always thought being sexually active at such a young age was ridiculous. I know there are many risks (STDs, sexual assault, pregnancy), but with the culture of my generation, sex is something that seems to be advocated by the media, peer pressure and the overall college setting. I am blessed to have amazing parents, and I know they will worry about me in college, so I have told my mom I won’t have sex until marriage. I do have my personal curiosities about sex, however, and I now believe in premarital sex. Is this the wrong decision? Am I too young to have sex in college, even if I find the right guy? I feel so conflicted with the pros and cons that I just can’t make up my mind. I am also worried about how I will be treated in college if I refuse to be sexually active with anyone. Do you have any advice?
College Bound with Concerns
DEAR COLLEGE BOUND: Like the smart and thoughtful young woman you are, you are throwing all of your smarts toward a solution that doesn’t even have a problem attached to it (yet).
Approach your sexual choices the way you might approach a technical question: one step at a time.
Many people do go a little crazy in college. But a high percentage of college students do not. Alcohol use is a risk factor in terms of your sexual choices. If you choose to stay away from alcohol and also hang out with sober students, your sexual choices will be intentional and your risk of STDs, assault, and unintended pregnancy decrease.
There are many ways of learning about sex (and being sexual) outside of intercourse. Don’t discuss your chastity pledge with your parents until you have a reason to. You can also choose to never discuss this with them. Your body is your own, and you (not your parents) should be in charge of it.
DEAR AMY: I’m dismayed by seeing small children, even infants, with screens placed sometimes just inches from their faces. There is just so much wrong with this. It impedes their health and social development. A preschool teacher told me that she sees a real difference with the children coming into her classrooms recently; they’re having a harder time learning how to be with other children. Her theory is that it’s because they’re staring at screens too much, rather than relating to the world around them. This is just my opinion, but I think that lifting up your head and becoming an observer of what’s around you is very valuable. It’s so sad when I see parents setting up screens at restaurants for their children. How about talking with them, or bringing a book or crayons? I don’t want to sound like a Luddite but I really can’t see an upside to this. Is it ever appropriate to mention the health risks to these parents, who might not know about them?
DEAR CAROL: No.
Obviously, you can try to tell people how to raise their children, but if you make this choice, you should prepare yourself for parents not giving a fig.
I happen to agree with you about screen use (every thoughtful person does), but you should confine your expertise to members of your own family.
DEAR AMY: Responding to your answer to “Sad Grandma,” many states have grandparents’ rights. If this grandmother’s state has them, she can go to court to file for rights of visitation. If she can prove that she and her grandchild have an established bond, she has rights to see her grandchild.
DEAR READER: I hope this grandmother exhausts all options before going to court.