DEAR ABBY: I am writing about my almost-13-year-old daughter. She's a sweet girl, but lately has been involved in a lot of drama. Recently, my husband and I saw what we believe to be two hickeys on her neck. She has denied, denied, denied it, but we know what we know.
I'm worried because, a few months ago, she was called into her counselor's office for "roasting." She was asked to roast two specific girls, and the information got back to them and to the counselor. Our daughter is not allowed to date, and although she has friends who started dating at 10 or 11, I don't allow her to go to their homes. I do allow them to come to our home instead.
I just need to know how to handle this situation before it gets out of control. I have tried talking calmly and patiently with her, but it doesn't work. She believes she knows it all and I know nothing.
- Unsure in New Jersey
DEAR UNSURE: Girls who mock others and say cruel things are less "nice" than you would like to believe. It's a form of bullying. You need to nip this in the bud. A way to handle your daughter's misbehavior would be to institute consequences for getting called to the counselor's office and/or lying to you and your husband. By consequences, I mean the removal of privileges - cellphone, television, internet, or having friends over for a period of time.
Also, if your daughter is coming home with hickeys, she may have too much unsupervised time. So if you haven't already, involve her in supervised activities such as church youth groups, sports, and special-interest clubs if her school offers them. If she's going to a friend's house, be sure an adult will be there.
Parenting is a full-time job. In time, your daughter will mature and this, too, will pass. But for now, she needs watching.
Throw in the towel amid bad choices
My best friend - who is 19 - was concerned that she might be pregnant, because her period was late. She told me that she and her husband (yes, she's married) have been having unprotected sex. Lo and behold, she took multiple tests, and she is pregnant.
I know they are not ready to have a baby, even though she says she's excited. They are living in a hotel, and she doesn't have a job. Her husband's mom doesn't even know they're married.
I feel bad, but it makes me not want to be her friend anymore because of the choices she's made and where she has ended up. Any advice?
- Don't Know What to Do
DEAR DON'T KNOW: Yes. If you prefer not to be part of her drama - and it doesn't take a crystal ball to see that there is likely to be plenty - back off. And tell her honestly that you are not equipped to handle her problems right now.
Save-the-date isn't a guarantee
I sent out save-the-date notices for my wedding in November. One couple have stopped talking to me and refuse to tell me why. Must I send them an invitation to my wedding?
- Wedding Blues
DEAR WEDDING BLUES: According to Emily Post, the rules of etiquette dictate that "everyone who receives a save-the-date card must receive an invitation." However, because the couple have stopped speaking to you, do not be surprised if you hear nothing from them.