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Sexually active teens must be responsible

Dear Abby: My 17-year-old daughter confided that she has become sexually involved with her boyfriend and asked if I would buy condoms for her. I agreed that she should protect herself and bought her a box of 12.

A week later, she informed me that she needed another 12-pack. When I asked why she had run out so quickly, she confessed that she has been supplying them to her girlfriends. Apparently they can't confide in their moms the way she can with me.

My dilemma is that condoms are expensive and, on one hand, I don't want to be the one supplying a group of kids. On the other hand, if I can help to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, maybe it's worth it. What do you think I should do? – Safe Sex Advocate in Illinois

Dear Safe Sex Advocate: If your daughter's friends are old enough to be sexually active, they and their boyfriends should also be responsible enough to provide their own birth control. Generally, teens do not need the permission of their parents to receive information about it. Because you want to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies (as well as STDs), direct them to the nearest Planned Parenthood Center for low-cost or no-cost birth control and instruction on how to use it. There are 18 of these health centers in Illinois. To find the one closest to you, visit plannedparenthood.org.

Dear Abby: I am the mother of three wonderful girls. The problem is my husband thinks the way to make them love him is by allowing them everything I don't. I'll give you some examples:

I don't let the girls eat anywhere except at the table, so my husband brings treats into the family room. I try to limit high-sugar/fat items like chips and candy, which he buys for them on a regular basis. I also try to adhere to a regular bedtime schedule, while he thinks nothing of stretching lights-out to an hour or more later.

Then he complains that the girls won't listen to him, so I must be in charge of the discipline. While this makes him Fun Daddy in our house, it makes me ... Mean Mommy in Ohio

Dear Mommy: It appears you're not just raising three wonderful girls, but also coping with an immature, overgrown boy. Parenthood is supposed to be a united, consistent partnership, a team effort. Your husband is sabotaging you and ignoring that one of the responsibilities of parenthood is establishing rules and limits that children should live with.

Your husband needs parenting classes, and if that's not possible, some sessions with a child behavior expert who can explain the consequences of what he's doing to his daughters in the name of being "Fun Daddy." From my perspective, there isn't anything funny about it. You have my sympathy.

Dear Abby: I work at a senior retirement community, and the residents have a Halloween party each year. In the past, there were prizes for the three best costumes.

However, last year they stopped giving prizes because one of the residents is a professional artist and costume maker, and the association felt it would be unfair to the others to have him compete.

This year it was decided not to hold the contest at all. The residents are disappointed. How can they continue to have the costume contest and include the professional? – Dressed Up in Louisiana

Dear Dressed Up: Ask the artist/costume designer to be the judge.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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