DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of two teenaged girls (13 and 15) and have been debating whether to tell them a secret about my past. When I was in high school, I made some poor decisions. I went to a party with people I viewed as friends, had too much to drink and the evening ended with my being raped by someone I thought I knew.
I reported it to my parents and the police, but because I couldn't remember big parts of the evening, I wasn't considered credible and no one believed me - not even my parents. My grades dropped, my weight plummeted and the entire school knew and believed his side of the story.
I internalized everything and became a shell of who I was before the incident. It was years before I forgave myself for making a horrible mistake. Ultimately, I moved in with my grandmother several states away to finish high school, far away from my parents and the pain.
Would it be appropriate to share this story (or a redacted version) with my daughters to help them understand the risks of teenage drinking? They are at the age when they are surrounded by temptation and curiosity, and their father and I can't shield them from everything. Would I be doing them a disservice by not telling them?
- Undecided In Nevada
DEAR UNDECIDED: You would be doing your daughters a favor if, along with warning them about underage drinking, you shared your story with them. If you do, it will help them understand that drinking can have unintended, sometimes lifelong consequences. Forewarned is forearmed.
Age just a number?
DEAR ABBY: Is it possible to have a relationship with a man 20 years younger? I rented my spare room to him, and over the past month, we have spent a lot of time together and grown very close.
He has made it clear that he's attracted to me, and I'm attracted to him as well. I am afraid of what people may think and say, and I worry about the long term. What are your thoughts?
- Relationship Issue
DEAR ISSUE: I gather from your letter that you are 40-plus years old. If you are still worried about what people may think, refrain from doing what you're considering, because people do tend to talk. Since no one can predict how long the "long term" might be, my advice is to guard your heart. Because there are no guarantees in life, proceed with caution.
Making the call back
DEAR ABBY: When you are on the phone with someone and the call is dropped, who is supposed to call who back? I spent five minutes trying to call my mom back while she was trying to call me. It was very frustrating; both of us kept getting voicemail.
Mom says the person who received the call should be the person who calls back. I say the person who MADE the call should be the person who calls back.
- Unsure in San Diego
DEAR UNSURE: While I agree with you, no rule of etiquette dictates who should call the other person back in the event of a dropped call. Long waits also happen when a caller doesn't realize the call has dropped and continues talking. Frankly, it has been my experience that the callback is usually made by the person who can get through first. And the first sentence uttered is usually, "So, where were we?"