DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I have a scary problem with my 15-year-old daughter. Last year she was a great kid, a bit chubby and awkward, and still lots of fun. After her 15th birthday, she sprouted up about three inches, slimmed out and now wears makeup, dyes her hair and looks way too sexy. She worries me. I could put up with all that if she hadn't turned into such a surly girl. Nothing pleases her. She hates doing anything with the family and sulks over something daily. Now she has a boyfriend and he looks like a real loser. How do I tell her that, given that she blows up over the least little thing? -- Worried Mommy, Winnipeg
Dear Worried: The last thing you ever want to hear is a kid in trouble with pregnancy, the law or abuse, saying: "Why didn't you warn me, Mom?" So, you need to have a couple of little talks (no long harangues) within the next few weeks, and you never refer to this boyfriend as a "loser." This is not her husband to be. It is her first boyfriend. Let's hope you haven't said the L-word yet.
There is some important research to be done before the talks. The best way to get to know this guy is to invite him for casual dinners, like barbecues (guys his age love food) and try to get to know him as if you like him. Ask him to help you with a few things at the barbecues, don't sit him down for a formal talk. Try to get the family and him playing cards or board games -- guys also like that kind of activity. You may actually end up liking him once you talk with him.
The worst thing you can do is pre-judge him by his looks and tell your daughter not to see him any more because he "appears" to be a loser. Then she will be totally disgusted with you and alienate herself from you -- and cling to him!
You also need to talk about birth control at this point and offer to pay for it if she needs it. The Women's Health Clinic downtown (204-947-1517) has a free teen drop-in clinic Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the third floor of 419 Graham Ave. where she can go without you.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: In response to Hiding Secret Love, I have to disagree with your instruction that you should never ask someone if you can kiss them. Many of my best dates have ended the night with, "I'm going to kiss you now, is that OK?" and I find it removes a lot of the awkwardness and uncertainty, and is also very respectful. I strongly discourage you announcing to all of your readers that you should never ask. It's OK to ask, guys! -- Just Ask, Winnipeg
Dear Just Ask: It depends on how the question is asked. If it's whispered it could keep the mood alive. If it's asked awkwardly, and the answer is an equally awkward yes, the self-conscious first kiss can sometimes land by the side of the lips or the nose and get smooshed over to the lips. Not a good start!
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Hooray for you for telling guys not to ask if they can kiss you before they do it. There is nothing worse. If a kiss is about to happen, the wonderful sexy tension is there and it brings you both in close for a mutual kiss. If the question is asked right out, or kind of announced, it makes the kiss so contrived and self-conscious. I feel like saying, "If you have to ask, we aren't ready." -- Need Spontaneity, Westwood
Dear Need Spontaneity: It often depends on how outgoing the two of you are. If you are both silly and fun and having light-hearted fun, then you can ask and it doesn't make a big difference. If it's a romantic kiss, then discussing it first can ruin the mood.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6