My daughter, "Chris," is 14. She'll be graduating from eighth grade in a couple of weeks. Over the last few months, I have been driving her and a group of boys and girls to the movies on Friday nights. This has evolved into a romantic relationship with a 15-year-old boy, "Bob," who lives close by and is in her class. In her junior high school, this is described as "going out."
I know they kiss. They also dance together at a local hangout on Saturday nights. I could refuse to drive them to the movies together, but they would probably meet there anyway.
Chris has a level head on her shoulders. She's a good girl and active in our church. We talk openly together.
Abby, can you guide me in this? I trust my daughter, but I am also aware that 14- and 15-year-olds have a lot of raging hormones. Please advise.
Wishes Kids Came With Handbooks
I agree that teenagers have raging hormones, and the most intelligent way to deal with it is to keep the teens occupied. You are already on the right track, keeping the lines of communication open, for which I applaud you.
I see no harm in your daughter being at the movies with this boy and a group of friends on weekends in light of the fact that you are providing the transportation and they are in a group. But much of her free time should be occupied with constructive pursuits such as sports, volunteer work, music and activities that will give her "service credits" toward college. Develop her interests. Keep her goal-oriented. Encourage her to develop platonic friendships. You can't prevent your daughter from growing up, but you can give her guidelines and make sure her time is well spent.
From fourth to ninth grade, I attended a small Christian school in Delaware. It was a great experience because the teachers and the students were able to really get to know one another.
One of the teachers, Mr. C., was one of the best a student could ever hope to have. Learning was fun in the subjects he taught, especially U.S. history. Can you imagine taking a class of 20 on an overnight camping trip to Gettysburg?
While talking to my mom, who was a co-teacher with Mr. C., about an upcoming business trip to Asheville, N.C., Mom mentioned that Mr. C. lives there and encouraged me to try to find him. Well, it turned out that Mr. C. was the only Mr. C. in the Asheville phone book.
We spent a wonderful afternoon reminiscing about his days as a teacher and mine as a student. Although I don't remember much about the subjects he taught, I will never forget the time he spent with us -- laughing while we played football on the playground, crying when a classmate passed away. He was always there for us.
One of his favorite lines was: "Don't hurt him! He is the only one we have like him!" Now that I work with children, I find myself using his favorite phrase.
Abby, please encourage your readers to take the time to look back and thank those teachers who made a difference in their lives. They helped to make us who we are today, and it would be rewarding for them to see the fruits of their labors.
Grateful in Northern Ohio
I have said it before and I'm pleased to say it again: Everyone wants to know that he or she has made a difference. Teachers don't earn much in the way of salaries; letters and calls of appreciation from former students can be extremely gratifying to former teachers who have helped to shape our lives. So if you've been putting it off, do it now.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate