Parents unsure how to have "the talk" with son

DEAR ABBY: I have a young, preteen grandson who is asking his parents "facts of life" questions. They are bewildered about how to give him the information. I'd be grateful if you could share details of the publication you have for this purpose and how to get it.

— GRANDMOM IN CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MICH.

DEAR GRANDMOM: Many parents find the subject of sex embarrassing, so they postpone discussing it with their children. They forget that children today mature earlier and are exposed to sexual images and references more often than those of previous generations.

When "The Talk" finally happens, it's often too late. It is important that parents begin discussing subjects like alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex and family values well before their children are tempted to experiment. My booklet "What Every Teen Should Know" was written to help parents break the ice and get the conversation going. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. His parents should review it before starting a discussion to deal with their son's questions that might arise.

Among the important topics included are: "How old must a girl be before she can get pregnant?" "How old must a boy be before he can father a child?" Other topics, including peer pressure, dating, STDs, drugs and alcohol, are also covered. My booklet has been used to promote discussions by educators and religious leaders and distributed by doctors' offices. The more information his parents can provide, the better prepared your grandson will be to make informed choices in the future. I hope my booklet will be a helpful tool for facilitating the many conversations his parents will have with their son.

DEAR ABBY: My son recently died in an accident. His death was unexpected and shocking, and we are all heartbroken, especially his girlfriend. I know he was having doubts about their relationship because he told me, but she doesn't know.

We have grown very close since the accident. She says things like, "'Danny' and I were meant to be." It makes me think I should tell her the truth. But I'm afraid if I do, it will affect our friendship and break her heart again. What do you think? Should she know or not?

— TREADING LIGHTLY

DEAR TREADING: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your son. Because the tragedy is recent, I see nothing to be gained by shattering her illusion. If you feel she's isolating herself, remind her that Danny would want her to go on with her life as do you. Assure her you will always be there for her if she needs you.

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