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Dear Abby: Time to start conversation about sex

Dear Abby: Do you have any information or advice on how to talk to my 12-year-old stepdaughter about sex? I have a pretty good idea about where to take the conversation. I don’t plan to make it a big deal – not so serious as to scare her, but not too lighthearted either. You never know what kids are saying about it in school these days. I want her to know that the door is always open should she need to talk. Do you have any pointers or reading material suited for her age?

– Stepmom in Texas

Dear Stepmom: I’m glad you are opening up the subject because “the talk” with your stepdaughter should have started long ago. For a variety of reasons, young people today mature much earlier than they did years ago. She should be told that, if they haven’t already started, the changes that will take place in her body are normal and nothing to fear.

My booklet “What Every Teen Should Know” can help you to start that conversation. It has been distributed in doctors’ offices and used to promote discussions by educators and religious leaders, as well as parents who find it hard to discuss these topics with their children. You can order one by sending your name and address, plus check or money order for $7 to Dear Abby Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

The more information you can give her, the better prepared she will be to make intelligent decisions in the future.

Keep her married name?

Dear Abby: I am a 25-year-old, well-educated woman, engaged to a wonderful man. Although we don’t plan to wed for a couple of years, I’m wondering what I should do about my name.

For a long time, I had thought that hyphenating would be an appropriate solution, but the more I consider it, a long double name on everything I will have to sign might become an inconvenience. I don’t dislike his last name or have strong feelings against taking it, but I like the name I have now. Part of me likes the idea of always carrying it.

What do other young couples do? I would love to hear an outside perspective.

– Name Game in Kansas

Dear Name Game: It is no longer unusual for a woman to retain her maiden name. Many choose to do it because they have become established/successful in their careers, others because they want to maintain their identity as an individual.

Some women solve the problem by using their husband’s name legally and retaining their maiden name professionally. Others use their maiden name as a middle name and their husband’s last name. Please don’t worry about this; you have time to make your final decision.