Q: I'm very upset with my sister because she paid for a hotel room for our niece, who is in college, to stay in with her boyfriend here. I think it was inappropriate, but she's says it's no big deal since they are having sex anyway. According to my sister, our niece has been sexually active since high school. That's news to me. Anyway, it's the principle. We weren't raised like that. I'm really surprised at her. Who do you think is right?
Steve: There can be no doubt that if you can take time before starting sex, it will have a better result. That's why religion and family members should be interested and make recommendations to the young 'uns. But, just remember, once she becomes a grown-up (18 in most places) the decision will be up to her.
Mia: You're right. Adults are supposed to set a good moral example - not make it easy for young people to become intimate before they're emotionally, physically and financially ready to deal with the consequences of what can happen when you're sexually active. So, if my sister hooked up my college-age daughter so she could be intimate with a boy, there would be hell to pay. It's one thing if my daughter did something like that on her own. I would deal with that the best I could as a parent. But if I found out my sister was helping her sneak around, I would feel betrayed. Sisters are supposed to stick together, not undercut each other.
Q: I have somehow caught myself in relationships with woman after woman. It never quite works out. I have a doubt. Or she tires of me. Or we each make bad ideas for the future. I am now 30-years-old, divorced and feel like I'm walking in the same path as my parents, who divorced when I was 12. How can I break this pattern?
Mia: Statistics show that children from divorced parents are more likely to divorce than those who come from homes where the parents stay married. The fact that you recognize that you may be repeating a negative pattern is huge. The next step is to take action. Try and get into therapy. Check out the self-help section of bookstores or websites such as DailyStrength.org, which have sections dealing with this issue. Check out titles such as, If Your Parents Divorced, Will You Too?: How to Break the Cycle of Divorce and Create a Successful Relationship of Your Own by Sharon Brooks (Enlighten Publishing, 2010). Heal yourself first and better relationships will follow.
Steve: A common problem. See Blizten Trapper on it:
"I heard my mother shouting through the fog
It turned out to be the howling of a dog
or a wolf to be exact.
The sound sent shivers down my back
but I was drawn into the pack.
And before long, they allowed me
to join in and sing their song.
So from the cliffs and highest hill, yeah
we would gladly get our fill,
howling endlessly and shrilly at the dawn.
And I lost the taste for judging right from wrong."
Between them, Steve and Mia have logged more than a few decades in the single-and-dating world. They're also wise to the ways of married life. They don't always agree, but they have plenty of answers. Contact them at S&M c/o Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 or email@example.com.