DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My son, who is 14, not too bright, and already six feet tall, is openly flirting with a girl of 16 who is known to be a "loose caboose." His sister told me. She's 17 and worries about him. This 16-year-old hottie doesn't know how young my boy is, because she only sees him outside of school. I'm afraid she will seduce him as he is naive, muscle-bound and very good-looking. -- Upset Mamma, Winnipeg
Dear Upset: If he is initiating the flirting, and knows her reputation, he may be looking for a sexual experience. Talk about this openly, starting with, "I hear you're interested in this girl so-and-so." He will be mad at his sister for telling -- but that's too bad. The last thing he needs at 14 is to have sex with this experienced girl who may (or may not) have an STD to pass on, or could get 'them" pregnant. You should have the safety talk about using both a good quality latex condom and a second method of birth control in case the condom breaks or slips off, and fails to protect. That's the tough part of being a smart parent -- talking about these things -- but you can do it. He may be so disgusted that you know about his flirtation, it will lose it's attraction then and there. Or, he may turn his back on you, and slam the door. Good luck to you.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My husband of 26 years is very stubborn at times, and lately he's getting worse. This weekend he chose not to show up for family pictures with our adult children. He knew a week in advance that our daughters were setting this up. He did comment that he hates getting his picture taken, but the girls and I thought he would participate. It turned out that he felt strongly about this, took off for the day and didn't show back up until after dark. He feels that he has done no wrong because he told us that he didn't want to do it, so we should get over it. I feel that I am the only parent sometimes, he isn't trying to keep any relationship with the kids. He talks a lot about selling his business and leaving the community, and it doesn't sound like I'm included in his life plans. What should I do? -- Wife of 28 Years, Manitoba
Dear Wife of 28 Years: This seems like more than being shy of a camera. He didn't even care if he hurt his grown-up children who arranged it. That's serious. Not wanting to be seen with the family unit could be symbolic. Perhaps he didn't want to capture himself in a photo in a family situation he no longer feels comfortable with. You didn't mention emotional words in your letter, like love or even sadness. Are you two still emotionally connected -- even you to him? Or, does it feel like you just have a history and you're plodding along? Don't feel that you will break anything that isn't already broken if you open this topic. You need to know if your husband is restless, wants counselling or has someone else and just wants to take off. Could he have an online woman or an affair in the vicinity? Clearly he's feeling disconnected. You need to find out how much. Do you still make love? There's an epidemic of married people who no longer have sex, and women are left confused when their husbands stray without negotiating? Could your husband be going bankrupt and hasn't told you? Asking about all this difficult stuff is absolutely necessary at this point. Do it before he just bolts.
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