While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On teenage girls who have sex:
As a successful (academically, professionally, happy with life, etc.) nearly 30-year-old woman who started having sex at 16, I would like to offer reassurance to the concerned adults that early-onset sexual activity does not a failed life make.
Personally, I discovered I wasn’t quite ready to be active and stopped myself for a couple of years without any pressure from a concerned adult. I was also honest with my mother at the time, and, while surprised, she was loving and supportive and applied some humor, saying: “What can I tell you, sex is fun.”
While adults may not be comfortable with their teenagers’ choices, I hope they take the positive-support route, understanding that their reactions can impact their teens’ feelings toward honesty, and sexuality, for a long time to come.
On moving back in with the parents to avoid “throwing money away” on rent:
I encourage adults in this situation to try a great experiment:
Put the same amount of money rent would cost into a new account. Also put away another $100 per month, as they should be able to save money even while living on their own, or they will never likely get ahead. During this time, they pay only what they have left of their income on credit cards, transportation expenses, phone, fun, clothing, food, and they absolutely cannot dip into the fund, since it would have gone to a landlord.
Determine the “rent” by actually looking at apartments, and include any utilities in the amount they put away, including cable TV and Internet.
If in six months they are happy with the new lifestyle, then they can make it on their own. Knowing what I know now, I would have moved out after I had no bills and loans looming over me and with a pile of cash saved.
Let’s also not forget how much we learn about ourselves — what our expectations, fears, etc., etc., are — when we strike out on our own. Even if you’re “poor,” even if you feel lonely, even if your folks are close and you all love each other.
I think the greatest time of personal growth I had was when I was fresh out of college, starting a new job, living in a new (huge) city, relatively poor and relatively clueless. It was hard, really hard. But it was also the best time of my life, and I really started to figure out what I wanted out of my life and how I could achieve it.