Dear Amy:

I am the father of a 14-year-old girl. I only met her 21/2 years ago (long story) and she lives with me most of the time.

We have an awesome relationship, but I am a protective dad and will not allow her to date, go to malls unescorted, etc.

I think that many parents make huge mistakes by allowing their kids to get involved with older kids by leaving them unsupervised.

My daughter dresses as other kids her age do -- not too provocatively, although I think her shirts are a bit high and her jeans a bit low.

Her mother bought her thong underwear, which I told her I definitely did not approve of in the eighth grade.

Clear something up for me, please. Her mother says that thongs are okay because they do not show panty lines. I told my daughter to get that stuff out of my house because I do not approve, but now they have mysteriously reappeared.

Do you think thong underwear is appropriate for that age? My girl is a good kid and gets good grades.

Is this something I should let slide? I am disappointed that she brought them back into the house without telling me.

Concerned Dad in Virginia

I applaud your commitment to your daughter and your desire to do the right thing. Your open-mindedness on this question puts you way ahead of the game.

You should sit down with your daughter and tell her that you respect her privacy but are disappointed that she chose to do something that she knows you don't like.

Ask her what she likes about thongs. Perhaps she thinks they're cool because she sees movie and music stars wearing them. Ask her, "But aren't they uncomfortable?" and listen to what she says. Then tell her that she is a growing young woman and you will trust her to make her own choices about her underwear, even though you're not crazy about this particular choice. In other words, let this slide, but don't necessarily let her know that you're letting this slide.

The fact is that your daughter could carry a thong in her backpack and change into it if she wanted to. You don't want to create such a problem about this that she becomes sneaky. It's also time for the two of you to talk about what boundaries you will set for this school year. You should think about granting her a little more freedom -- not less -- so that she can learn to make good choices under your careful guidance.

You might benefit from getting involved with an organization called Dads and Daughters ( You could communicate with other dads who, like you, seek to influence their daughters in a positive way.

Dear Amy:

I'm friendly with a woman at my gym who attends the same aerobics class I do.

I enjoy seeing her, but she's a real talker and will frequently engage me in a half-hour (or longer) conversation after class.

I don't mind this every once in a while, but usually I just want to go home and shower!

Recently, I've started working from home, so I've lost my usual, "Gotta get to work" excuse (even though it's still very true).

What's a polite way to let her know that I can't continue having these lengthy conversations?


Place one sweaty hand on her arm and say, "Cynthia, I know I'm always racing off, but I'm so pressed for time after class. I just have to go." Then make your way to the door.

Working from home is as much a commitment as working from an office. You (and others) are going to have to realize that.

If you like her well enough to risk getting to know her better, perhaps you can propose meeting for coffee and conversation during a non-sweaty time. Beware, however -- if a friendship doesn't develop, then you may have to change your exercise schedule.

Write to Amy Dickinson at

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.