DEAR AMY: My daughter, who is almost 12 years old, visited a hospital a couple of months ago, and during an exam a nurse asked her if she uses birth control.
Is this an appropriate question to ask a not-quite-12-year-old girl? I feel that it is the kind of question that would make girls of that age think that maybe they were missing out on something. Am I right? -- M
DEAR M: Any girl who is old enough to menstruate could also be taking birth control, not only to prevent pregnancy but because it might have been prescribed for medical reasons.
I agree that this question might seem absurd to you or your daughter, given her age, but this presents an opportunity for you to discuss your daughter’s reproductive health with her. She is reaching an age when it will be important for her to understand why questions such as this one might be asked.
It’s hard to imagine that this question, given in the context of an important medical exam, would encourage her to have sex or take birth control. Certainly if you have explained that some girls are prescribed hormone-based birth control to help regulate painful menstruation (for instance).
If your daughter was among the small group of those her age who do take birth control, it could affect her treatment.
Whenever she is asked a question and doesn’t understand why the question is being posed, she should say, “Excuse me, but I don’t understand why you’ve asked this question. Could you explain it?”
Please use this as an opportunity to talk with her in a way that encourages her to be open with you.
DEAR AMY: My wife takes full-time care of our disabled adult son. We live in a rural area and have minimal contact with other people. All of our family members live a thousand or more miles away.
My wife uses Facebook to stay in touch with her extended family. The problem is that some family members post videos supporting their political/religious views. These videos are very demeaning and hurtful to us because of our personal beliefs.
When my wife has responded about how these posts make her feel, their response is that it is their Facebook page, and she does not have to link to it. But it is not that easy to “unfriend” family and lose that contact.
My feeling is that Facebook should be treated more like a family dinner, where you should curtail political/religious discourse for the sake of family harmony.
I believe that if someone has an overwhelming need to pontificate on his or her polarizing views, start a blog. A blog is much easier to choose to not join. What are your feelings about this issue? -- Curious Husband
DEAR HUSBAND: Your analogy comparing Facebook to a family dinner is very apt. As happens at many family dinners, Facebook postings often show a complete lack of regard and respect for the sensitivities of other people sharing the (virtual) table. In fact, sometimes these family members actually behave badly on purpose and enjoy the negative reactions.
However, unlike family dinners, where people have to interact personally, Facebook is relatively easy to control. Your wife’s mistake is to consume material she knows will offend her. It is very easy to “hide” the posts of specific Facebook users. Your wife should do this, and then she can continue to check in with these people when she feels up to it.
The unrestricted freedom of Facebook means that it doesn’t matter how you, your wife or I think it should be used. It is what it is, and your wife could easily enjoy tons of content from people (friends or newsmakers) whose work interests her by searching for a name and “liking” the corresponding page.
DEAR AMY: “Bewildered” seemed eager to marry her “wild” boyfriend. It’s as if she thought that marriage would automatically force him to change.
Oy vey. What is it with people? -- Frustrated
DEAR FRUSTRATED: People seem to believe that wishing will make it so. This kind of magical thinking keeps advice columnists (and divorce lawyers) in business.
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