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Dear Carol.

Dear Carol,

My parents have been divorced for about five years and I've been living with my dad. The problem is that even though I am a good daughter and get good grades, he refuses to support my punk look. My boyfriend is punk, too. My dad is really uptight and we live in a fancy high-class neighborhood. How can I get my dad to accept me for who I am?

Want to Be Me

Dear Want to Be Me,

When you're with your dad, consider toning down a little in the way you dress. No need to wear khakis and upturned collars, but keeping peace with your dad is important and, if your clothes are in the way Of your relationShip, dressing punk could mean winning the battle but losing the war. Find things you and your dad enjoy together, whether it's chess or ping-pong, going to movies, visiting relatives, or cooking a meal. Let him see there's plenty more to you than being punk.

Dear Carol,

My friend and I like the same guy, and I made out with him at a party. My friend found out and said she wanted to punch my face in. Now she says it's OK, but she doesn't call me like she used to and, when I call her, she says she's busy. What should I do? I've apologized, but I can't take back what I did.

Sorry

Dear Sorry,

I can see why your friend feels hurt, can't you? On the other hand, you didn't steal her boyfriend--you kissed her crush, who was also your crush. No real crime in that. In fact, it's possible she might have done the same thing if given the opportunity. E-mail or leave her a message that says, "My New Year's wish is to have our friendship back the way it was," or, "Let's not lose our friendship over a guy." Maybe she just needs time for her wounded pride to heal. And if you and the guy become a couple? Nix the public makeout scenes.

Dear Carol,

My friend tells her mom everything, and I mean everything. She even spills my secrets, so I don't share them with her anymore. She thinks that her mother's opinion is the absolute truth. When my other friends and I tease her (she teases us a lot too), she'll say something like, "You really know how to make someone feel bad." Then she tells her mom! I'm afraid this will make her mom dislike us, even though my friend knows we were just teasing (we were smiling when we teased her).

Upset Friend

Dear Upset Friend,

Some teenagers take to screaming, "I hate you, Mom! I hate you, Dad!" while slamming the door behind them. Others hold on to their parents so tightly that it takes a bit longer for those girls to develop their independence. The trick is to become your own person without hating your parents ... or clinging to them. This can sometimes take years! For whatever reason, your friend isn't ready to step away from her mother just yet, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. However, you and your friends should cut back on the teasing because, with or without the accompanying smiles, teasing can hurt. Be patient with your friend and, if you choose to share a secret with her in the future, add, "If you tell your mother about my crush, I won't be able to confide in you anymore." Hang in there. You and your friend could be back on track before you know it.

Dear Carol,

My dad is in Iraq for a year and a half, and my mom is not taking it well at all. When I try to comfort her, she gets mad for no apparent reason. Is there a way I could help my mother get through this?

Mom Helper

Dear Mom Helper,

Keep in mind that when your mom gets upset, she's angry at the situation--not at you. You don't have to be a perfect daughter but, right now, extra thoughtfulness will go a long way. Give her hugs, put away the dishes, tell her she looks nice. When you're missing your dad for the holidays, don't hesitate to say, "I wish Dad were here." It won't remind her of his absence--he's already on her mind.

Dear Carol,

I talked about one friend with another and, behind my back, she blabbed. But while we were gossiping, she agreed with me and talked about that person too. This "she said" game has ended some friendships. What is a reasonable way to dry up the old gossip mill?

Gossiped Out

Dear Gossiped Out,

When friends waste time dissing other friends, things go downhill fast. So don't gossip about people you care about. If someone says, "Omigod, her shirt is so ugly!" instead of saying, "Ew, and so are her shoes," shrug and say, "It's a good color on her." I'm not saying you can't have honest heart-to-hearts. But be caring, not catty. You'll soon figure out which friends can be trusted and which turn talk into trouble. Desperate to gossip? Go after celebs: "Can you believe Britney got married? Wait, didn't she just get divorced?" You get the idea.

Dear Carol,

My New Year's 'resolution is to lose weight. How can I do it right?

Overweight Teen

Dear Overweight Teen,

Congratulations on wanting to get in shape for 2005! Start by adjusting your attitude--when you see someone scarfing snowman cookies, instead of thinking, "Poor me! I can't have any," think, "ray! I'm able to resist those empty calories." Losing weight is about being aware of portion sizes. America's obesity problem is due in part because we put so much food on our plates. A serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards--not a textbook! So put smaller portions on your plate, split entrees at restaurants, and make a rule such as "No snacks after 9 p.m." Then at 9 sharp, brush with your favorite toothpaste and don't even think about before-bed munching. Do you drink a lot of soda? Soda is a liquid load of calories and, if you switch to water, you'll be astounded at how that single change can help you drop pounds. Finally, don't forget to exercise. Go ice skating or skiing over the holidays. Take brisk winter walks around the block. Take up a school sport.

Dear Carol,

My friends and I use silly slang. We say, "That's so gay," or, "Omigod, that's retarded!" We're just talking about a shirt or something weird someone did, but I'm afraid it sounds mean. I believe in gay rights, and I'd never tease a retarded person. But if a stranger heard us, would it seem cruel?

Am I Mean?

Dear Am I Mean?

If you were mean, you wouldn't be concerned. You have a conscience and realize words are powerful--and misusing them can be hurtful. Some of your friends might also feel uneasy about it, so find more appropriate words to convey what you mean. And kudos to you for striving to be articulate instead of insensitive.

Dear Carol,

I was looking for some photos on the computer, which my whole family uses, and I found pornography! It totally freaked me out. I think it is my dad's--it was on the desktop, not a Web site. I have no idea what to do or say.

Grossed Out

Dear Grossed Out,

I don't blame you for feeling freaked. Or awkward or uncomfortable. Online pore is a giant industry and, while many find it sexist and degrading, others find it intriguing. There's no need to label your dad as a terrible person, and besides your dad might not even be the culprit. Brothers can be curious about certain images that can be downloaded on the computer. Can you tell your dad or mom that you accidentally came across some X-rated stuff that bothered you? Suggest that they make changes on the family computer so you don't stumble across any more unwelcome images.

Dear Carol,

There's this guy I believe I am truly in love with. He says he's in love with me too. My parents know how I feel, and they think he's a good boy for me to be around. The things is, I'm a virgin (he isn't) and I want to lose it to him. I'm moving soon, and he knows I don't want to do anything unless it's with the guy I'm supposed to be with. Should I before I move?

Dear Wants To,

No! What's the rush? This is the first boy you've had these feelings for, not the last. In fact, as the new girl in your next school, you're about to meet many new guys. If you get more involved with your boyfriend now, it will make moving that much harder. And, once you've moved away, you might wish you hadn't been so intimate. Not to mention that if you have sex, you run a very serious risk of getting pregnant or contracting a disease. Even if he uses a condom, you'd have to ask yourself now--not later--what you'd do if it broke and you got pregnant. Have a baby? Have an abortion? Are you really ready for that kind of decision? I get a lot of mail from pregnant teens, and believe me, they all wish they could turn back time. As for sexually transmitted diseases, one in four sexually active teens gets an STD each year. One in four! And some of those STDs, like herpes and HIV, last a lifetime. Your parents may like this boy, but I'm sure they would not like the idea of your having sex with him. You wrote to me because you knew what I would say. And I'm saying it. Loud and clear. Take your time growing up. Enjoy being young while you can.

Carol Weston's newest advice books and novels are Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (Fourth Edition), For Girls Only, and With Love From Spain, Melanie Martin. Her website is carolweston.com. You can write Carol c/o Girls' Life 4517 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD, 21214. For a reply, include a stamped self-addressed envelope. Carol is sorry she can't answer every question personally.
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Article Details
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Author:Weston, Carol
Publication:Girls' Life
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:1716
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