Straight Talk Advice

Weekly Column Archives

July, 2014

Keep mouth shut about friend’s loser boyfriend — unless!

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 18 and my best friend for 10 years is dating someone with a lot of mental health and drug abuse problems. Even after he said terrible things to her, she still took him back. I'm always there for her when…

Dad feels rejected, wants place in daughter’s life

Dear Straight Talk: My 16-year-old daughter complains that I'm not "in her life" enough. I do work hard in a demanding career to support our family, but I buy her things, take a family vacation every year, and when I make attempts to…

Heroin use at epidemic levels

Dear Straight Talk: My friend is smoking heroin. I tell her to stop before she gets addicted, but she denies the problem. Her parents hate me and will accuse me of being the cause, so I'm not going to tell them. I don't know how…

Father gets the ‘straight talk’ on school shootings

Dear Straight Talk: To combat school shootings, our school district is considering arming teachers who undergo extensive training. All this is making my daughter (age 17) even more nervous about school shootings — while my son, 15,…

June, 2014

Being youngest can make it tough to feel smart

Dear Straight Talk: I'm the youngest of five siblings with 20 years between my oldest sibling and myself. Because I am considerably younger, I sometimes feel like I don't fit. I am fairly introverted while they are outspoken, so…

How to tell if a girl is interested or just flirting

Dear Straight Talk: Recently, some girls wrote in asking how to tell whether guys liked them or just wanted to hook up. Well, my guy friends and I can't tell whether a girl likes you or is just flirting. We're 16 and the girls are…

The importance of Father

Dear Readers: How much do fathers matter? Same as I said for mothers on Mother's Day: Worlds. Yet, a lot of people aren't "getting the memo". The U.S. leads the world in fatherless families. In 1960, only 12 percent of…

Girl caught in the crossfire between stepsister and BFF

Dear Straight Talk: I'm really stressing. I've had my BFF [best friend forever] since elementary school. My stepsister has also become a good friend. She's my age (16), goes to my school, and shares my room every other weekend.…

May, 2014

Eighth-grade brother “huffing” inhalants

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 10 and my big brother is in eighth grade. He used to be so much fun and I looked up to him. Now I've spied him stealing money from our mother's purse and sniffing from chemicals in our garage. I don't…

Dad wants to motivate college-dropout son

Dear Straight Talk: My son dropped out of college last year, his sophomore year. He partied hearty and flunked out. After six challenging months at home, he has a restaurant job and lives with roommates where mostly just drinking, video…

Father recognizes daughter’s friend at strip club

Dear Straight Talk: I often fly for work and my group recently had dinner at a strip club near the destination airport. Needless to say, I was surprised to see a girl my daughter went to high school with working there as a dancer. I don't…

In praise of Mother

Dear Readers: How much do mothers matter? Worlds. To all mothers, stepmothers, and female caregivers, Happy Mother's Day! —Love, Lauren

April, 2014

Teen advised to drop bullying ‘friend’

Dear Straight Talk: I wrote my friend a bad note, cussing her out for the way she hurts my feelings. I regret it deeply, as I almost lost a good friend. After much apologizing, she finally forgave me. The problem is, now I'm walking…

Heterosexual girl shares warning about bi-experimentation

Dear Straight Talk: I'm in high school and after reading your column on heterosexual girls pressured into trying lesbian sex (FEB…

How does a shy guy ask a girl to prom?

Dear Straight Talk: I'm a junior and small for my age. I would like to ask this girl to prom, but she is quiet and I can't tell if she likes me or not. I've never asked a girl out and don't understand how guys get up the…

Teen anxious about not falling asleep — wants help

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 15. Most nights, I cannot fall asleep. I haven't used Adderall as a study drug all school year, and actually, reading Straight Talk's column on it [APR…

How to tell if a guy likes you — or just wants to hook up

Dear Straight Talk: How do you tell if a guy likes you? Or if he just wants to hook up? My friends and I are having an argument about this. —Jojo, 16, Vacaville, Calif.

March, 2014

Mom afraid to confront son over possible drug use

Dear Straight Talk: My son, 16, recently started working a restaurant swing shift on Friday nights and weekends. The problem is he comes home looking out of sorts. I don't smell alcohol, but he looks strange in the eyes, not like himself.…

Daughter melts down: “My friends hate me”

Dear Straight Talk: I'm a single father and my daughter is (or was) a well-adjusted sophomore. Now, she refuses to go to school. When I insist, she locks herself in her room and cries. I'm at a loss and must get to work myself.…

Girlfriend’s cigarette smoking might be deal-breaker

Dear Straight Talk: Ugh, I just found out my girlfriend smokes. I really like her, but now I'm torn. It's how I was raised — I just hate cigarettes. We are both 17. She kept it from me, probably knowing I wouldn't approve,…

Should young man study online or take real classes?

Dear Straight Talk: I'm graduating from high school this June. My stepfather and I don't communicate and sharing a room with two siblings makes concentrating impossible. I have to get out, but my parents cannot help with college…

February, 2014

How much should parent divulge about reasons for divorce?

Dear Straight Talk: I have recently separated from my husband. Our 15-year-old son keeps pushing me for why I want the divorce, but when I try to explain, he accuses me of bashing his dad and shuts me off. This keeps happening and is causing…

Teen loves parents equally but wants to live with mom

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16 and my parents divorced last year. I love them equally but I live with my mom because there is more structure here that's helpful for school. However, now my dad is remarried and is pressuring me to live…

Trying to stay straight at all-women’s college

Dear Straight Talk: I'm a freshman at a top all-girl's college. I'm straight and broke up with my boyfriend to be here. There is tremendous pressure to fit in here by hooking up with girls. I realize girl-girl experimentation…

Girl faces pressure over not shaving

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16 and unlike most girls I know, I prefer to be natural and don't shave or wax. My friends accept this as my business, however, my stepsisters, with whom I share a room every other weekend, say I look gross…

January, 2014

Low libido affecting intimacy in young couples

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 24 and not sure where to turn. My boyfriend, 26, wants to move in together and make things permanent, but so many coupled friends complain that they hardly ever have sex and there is little intimacy when they…

What bugs Millennials about their generation? Part 2

Dear Readers: If there's one word to define this generation, it's "distracted." Smart phones, video games, on-line porn, surround-media blasting messages mostly making bad stuff look good. Magicians rely on distraction to perform…

What bugs Millennials about their generation?

Dear Readers: What bugs you about your generation? I asked the panel this simple question and their responses are, I hope, unsettling. As the first children to come of age in the Digital Age, Millennials have unique challenges, often unrecognized…

Teen wants help losing weight

Dear Straight Talk: This year, I want to lose weight. My weight affects my energy, my lack of a boyfriend, and how I feel about myself. I think my mom is scared I'll become anorexic if she says anything other than, "You are beautiful…

December, 2013

Teen suffers post holiday blues

Dear Straight Talk: It's the day after Christmas and I'm so depressed. We do this whole thing at my grandparents where my relatives buy all this stuff and we spend the day pretending we are so thrilled with what we opened. I just…

Underage booze parties can land parents in trouble

Dear Straight Talk: I recently met the parent of one of my son's friends. I was floored when she told me she allows kids to drink at her house as long as they stay the night. She said lots of parents do this and assured me the kids…

Wishes for the World 2013

Dear Readers: Be careful what you wish for — you just might get it. Indeed, wishes are like seeds and each holiday season I ask the panel to dig deeply into their hopes and dreams for improving the world. As usual, this generation…

Thank-you letters good for Auntie, good for kids

Dear Straight Talk: Each year I give my niece and nephew an expensive gift of something they want or need, often including money. If I'm there, they say thank you but I've never once received a thank-you letter. I know young people…

Talking to daughters differently can help prevent rape

Dear Straight Talk: With all the holiday parties coming up, there is tremendous pressure to drink — followed by pressure to hook up and have sex. Many people don't realize that taking advantage of an intoxicated person is…

November, 2013

Shoplifting hard to shake and often a sign of depression

Dear Straight Talk: I am writing about my friend. She has a problem with shoplifting, maybe even an addiction. I would like to help her stop before she gets caught because she is over 18 and it will result in a criminal record. When we…

Holiday shopping guide: The “straight talk” on what young people want & need

Dear Readers: It's time again for our direct-from-the-source teen & twenty shopping list! As usual, please resist buying stupid stuff just because other kids have it. Definition of stupid stuff: video games, "smart" phones,…

When is it okay for parents to snoop?

Dear Straight Talk: Our two teenage daughters give us few problems. However, their phone accounts are in our names and we routinely check their messages without their knowledge. Our youngest, age 16, has a male friend from a good family…

Dad has caffeine headache over “everywhere” drug

Dear Straight Talk: My son, 15, feels enormous social pressure to drink Starbucks and "energy" drinks. Of course he can say no, but when his peers are tanking up on these sugary caffeinated drinks, before school, at lunch, before sports,…

October, 2013

Society and kids big losers when kids don’t read

Dear Straight Talk: Every morning I drive my granddaughter to high school and observe all the kids, every hand gripping a cell phone. I've been in the newspaper business 46 years and I'd like to ask what young people today read.…

Best friend entangled in cheating love triangle

Dear Straight Talk: My roommate and best friend is torn between two lovers. She finds her boyfriend, "Raf", dull so she is cheating on him with "Sevan” who is less serious about her. I'm pretty shocked by her lack of ethics and…

Divorced dad gets help winning back estranged daughter

Dear Straight Talk: My daughter, “Paige,” is 14. Her mother and I divorced four years ago and my ex has always said ugly things about me. Somehow Paige seemed to know these things weren’t true and we had a great relationship.…

Mom struggling with daughter’s Halloween costume

Dear Straight Talk: I'm at wit's end. My daughter, 15, is planning her Halloween outfit. Last year, I was embarrassed by how "trashy" she looked but I didn't want a fight. I would like to set boundaries this year and wonder…

Girl craving friend’s e-cigarette

Dear Straight Talk: My friend uses an e-cigarette when we go for coffee or to parties. Lots of kids smoke cigarettes at parties but she says her parents would flip out if she was a smoker. She says she doesn't want her clothes or car…

September, 2013

Knowing warning signs of suicide can save a life

Dear Readers: The news is filled with murder-rate statistics and efforts to fight violent crime, yet most people don't realize there are more than double the suicide deaths

Diary entry about suicide must be taken seriously

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 15 and have a stepsister who I'm somewhat close to. We go to different schools but share my room every other weekend. She's super depressed every since her boyfriend dumped her for another girl. She carries…

Boy wants ‘fresh start’ at new school after bullying

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16, hoping for a fresh start at a new high school after leaving my old one for being bullied. I'm pretty small for a guy and not very athletic. I mostly seemed to make friends with girls at my other school,…

Drunk boyfriend gets a “little rough”

Dear Straight Talk: My stepsister and I are both 17 and almost like real sisters. We share a room and lately I see bad bruises on her body. She confided that her boyfriend got drunk at a party and thought she was being too friendly with…

August, 2013

Warnings from the trenches about drinking — Part 2

Dear Readers: Last week, "Worried Mom" asked how to speak to her pre-college teen about the realities of college drinking and the college hookup scene. The panel reported from the front lines and I'm hoping their stories will motivate…

Warnings from the trenches about drinking

Dear Straight Talk: My daughter is heading off to college. She has a history of drinking and I'm worried. I know that many kids die each year from alcohol poisoning.  What can I say to instill caution? I also worry about …

Sisters want out of visitation with Dad and new beau

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16 and have a 13-year-old sister. Our parents are divorced and we've always lived with our mom. We used to see Dad every other weekend, but he moved so now we just see him two weeks in the summer and one…

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