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Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

Q. I am an 18-year-old senior in high school. I am about to graduate and go to college. Each time I go for a yearly checkup, my doctor suggests that I get the HPV vaccine. My mother, who is a little skittish, hems and haws and ultimately decides that, no, I should not get the vaccine. Her reasoning is that sex will wait until after marriage, so there is no risk of my getting HPV and therefore no need for the vaccination.

I think that she is burying her head in the sand. She is banking on the idea that I will not have sex until I am married, that I will have sex with only one person and that that one person will only have sex with me. I know that all of these things are extraordinarily unlikely.

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I would like to get the vaccine. I would feel safer, especially because I am aware that I will probably be sexually active. To disclose this to my mother would open up a whole new can of worms and would become a completely different argument with her, probably resulting in my wearing a chastity belt.

How should I approach this subject with her? Is there a way that I can convince her that it is more practical for me to get the vaccine?  Worried Student

A. Welcome to adulthood. We have T-shirts.

You have already discussed this with your mother. Presumably, your doctor has also discussed this with her.

The HPV vaccine is given to inoculate women against the human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer (and other cancers) later in life. This vaccine is usually offered to girls and young women before they become sexually active, thus eliminating the risk that they have already been exposed to the virus through sexual contact.

At age 18, you no longer have to ask your mother’s permission to receive a vaccine which could literally save your life down the road. As a legal adult, your medical and sexual choices are now your own to make. I appreciate that you realize how serious these choices are and suggest you do some research to see how you can receive this vaccine — as well as accurate information about sex and birth control. A great source for information is Planned Parenthood:

Q. I am the mother of a 17-year-old son.

I recently found out that he calls the mother of one of his friends “ma”!

He did it right in front of me! I told him to stop doing it because he only has one mother -- me! I further told him that he owes me an apology. He does not understand what the big deal is.

I told him to apologize to me not because I’ve told him to, but only if he feels that he has done something wrong. I also told him that if he failed to see what was wrong with his actions, there would be a problem between us.

He does not know that I am giving him three days to apologize; then I will talk with him about why it’s necessary.

Am I overreacting?

The Only Mom

A. You are overreacting by a factor of 1,000. Furthermore, you are giving your son ultimatums, timetables, and circular logic without giving him the benefit of honest, thoughtful explanations. This is manipulative and traps him into hurting your feelings further without understanding why.

Demanding an apology and then demanding sincerity are opposite challenges. Your son might be an immature teenager, but what’s your excuse?

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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