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Annie's mailbox: Promiscuous 13-year-old needs adult counsel

Dear Annie: I have a 13-year-old daughter with whom I have a very close relationship. "Chloe" shares most everything with me about her friends. She recently told me of a good friend who is having a sexual relationship with two young boys. The friend is using no form of protection. She, too, is only 13.

I have a nice relationship with the friend's parents and feel the need to inform them of their daughter's behavior. However, I am unsure if her parents would convey where they obtained their information. I am certain it would ruin the relationship between Chloe and her friend if it got around that I was the one who told her parents. Not to mention what it could do to my relationship with my daughter if she felt I betrayed her trust. It could be devastating to her.

As a parent I know what I should do, but I fear Chloe would no longer share her private life with me. —Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Dear Stuck: Talk to Chloe and explain your dilemma. Tell her, as a parent, you would want to know if she were doing something risky, and you think her friend's parents would want to know, too. Make it clear that you don't want to betray her confidence, but some secrets are too dangerous to keep. She owes it to her friend to see that she is protected and looked after, no matter how angry she may become. You also can offer to speak directly to her friend, as a surrogate parent, if Chloe thinks the girl might listen to you.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "K in Pennsylvania," whose in-laws wanted the new granddaughter to call them "Papa" and "Nana," but the parents wanted them to use the names "Grandma" and "Grandpa."

I am a speech pathologist working in early verbal development of speech. It is my observation that it will be an easier transition for the grandchild to produce the duplicate sounds of "papa" and "nana" than the complex blending of "grandpa" and "grandma," which, developmentally, typically cannot be produced until she reaches 4 or 5 years of age. —Birch in Florida

Dear Birch: Thank you for giving us an expert opinion. Our readers had plenty to say on the subject. Read on:

From California: Surely the writer doesn't think that reasonable, sane adults actually choose to be called names like "MeMaw" and "DeDaw." Grandparents are pretty much stuck with whatever the first grandchild can pronounce.

Midwest: When my youngest grandchild was 2 years old, she insisted on calling me "Mike," even though her older siblings called me "Grandma." I got such a kick out of "Siddown, Mike," and "C'mere, Mike." She is now 11 years old, and I'm still Mike. Where she got this name, I have no idea.

East Coast: My father-in-law wanted to be called "Granddad." As my oldest learned to talk, he would often call him "Dad" because he heard my husband refer to him that way. We would gently correct him, saying, "No, it's 'Granddad.' " Evidently he put "Dad" and "No" together and started calling him "Daddo." My father-in-law thought it was cute, and it stuck. Now he has four grandchildren who are affectionately known in the family as "Daddo's Kiddos."

Lewisburg, West Va.: My mother is "Nana," and my mother-in-law is "Amah," but both of our fathers were called "Papa" by the cousins. Our children solved the confusion by calling my father "Carlson Papa" and my father-in-law "Smith Papa."

Pennsylvania: I waited forever to hear my granddaughter call me "Grammy." Imagine my surprise when, at 18 months, she looked at me and said, "Bickie." I've been Bickie ever since to all of the grandchildren, and I love it.


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.


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