Ask Amy

Sexually active teens terrify parent

Q. A few weeks ago, I was printing an e-mail from my daughter’s account. Her account stayed open after sign-off.

Boy, did I get an eyeful! It appears my 16-year-old daughter and her 17-year-old boyfriend have been contemplating sex and have already gone to the heavy petting stage. There must have been more than 1,000 e-mails of detailed touching and adult sexual language.

Both kids have had “the talk” with their parents, and we all thought abstinence was not an issue. I have had numerous talks with my daughter about sex, relationships, and consequences.


Both kids want to go to college and have goals in life. They do feel they are “soul mates” — but what teenage couple don’t think that? The boyfriend is the nicest, most respectful boy you would want your daughter to date. Teenage hormones got the best of both of them. If any of the other parents find out, their relationship is over.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

To make a long story short, I told them I read every single e-mail. When my daughter saw tears come to my eyes, she knew they had crossed the line, as I am a very open and understanding parent. They have been warned, talked to about consequences again, and strict rules have been put in place such as no “alone time” together.

Am I silly to think I can keep them in check, and should I keep their secret?


A. If you seriously believe this couple will abstain from sex because you say so, then you might want to get started decorating the baby’s nursery.

Keeping these two apart is completely unrealistic. In addition to your wise counsel about consequences, they should also be told that if they have sex, they must use contraception. You should urge your daughter to explore her options with her doctor, and/or the couple should visit a Planned Parenthood clinic together for realistic counseling and birth control.


You tell them: “You both know that we do not want you to have sex because you are too young. However, we cannot police you every second you are together. We love and care about you both. If you love and care about each other, you will take care of your health and protect your own plans by exercising good judgment and using birth control if you have sex. It is a huge responsibility — and it is your responsibility, not ours.”

I have news for all of you: A girl can get pregnant without having intercourse. The risk is low, but if they have ventured into the foreplay arena, they’re already there.

Q. My mother passed away a few years ago.

A few years before she died, my mom traveled with my aunt (her sister) to visit my sister. During their stay, my mother and aunt got into a fight.

My mother decided it was too stressful to continue her visit and came home earlier than expected. Before she got on the plane, her sister said, “I hope the plane crashes with you on it.”


I have had a relationship with my aunt since my mother’s death, but my sisters are saying I should not speak to her because of what she said.

I tend to think my mother would have forgiven her sister, but am I betraying my mother or her memory by having a relationship with her sister?

Torn Sister

A. Your sisters cannot dictate how — or if — you choose to have a relationship with your aunt. Furthermore, you should not spend too much time trying to figure out what your mother would have wanted. Reconciliation and forgiveness are good things, in and of themselves.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at