Straight Talk Advice

Weekly Column Archives

November, 2014

Shopping that doesn’t support slave labor puts “Christ” back in Christmas

Dear Straight Talk: I enjoy hitting the mark with holiday gifts. I have three teenage grandchildren and two in their 20s. Please advise as to top gifts. Also, do kids read books anymore? If so, what are some favorites? —Grandma…

Family gatherings an opportunity for inter-gen bonding and support

Dear Straight Talk: I'm hosting several sets of parents, grandparents, teenagers and college students for Thanksgiving. The young people tend to divide off, many staring into their devices, while some elders stare into the TV. What…

Panelist shares about healing from child sexual abuse

Dear Readers: Child sexual abuse affects 1-in-3 girls and 1-in-7 boys nationally. In 97 percent of the cases, the abuser is a family member or friend.…

October, 2014

Thank You For Not Smoking!

Dear Straight Talk: Trying to quit smoking? Forget it! The trick is not starting. Leroy and Dee were heavy smokers who knew this. They told their sons at a young age that they put $600 apiece [equal to $3850 today] in an account to receive…

Anatomy of the high school party scene

Dear Straight Talk: My daughter, 17, and her friends are getting ready for the big Halloween party, swapping clothes and creating costumes. My problem isn't the costumes being too racy as I've read about in Straight Talk (though…

Depressed male took risks, ended up in jail

Dear Straight Talk: I got engaged at 22 and we have three beautiful children. I fell down the wrong path and my fiancé said she would always be there for me. But when I received two years in prison, she left me. Since lockup, I'm…

Rush Limbaugh woefully irresponsible for saying ‘no sometimes means yes’

Dear Straight Talk: Here's one for your panel. What do they think about Rush Limbaugh's advice to guys that when a girl says no, it might actually mean yes? Really enjoy your column. —John, 70, Rohnert Park, Calif.

September, 2014

Is loud, inappropriate ‘girl talk’ the new feminism—or result of nonstop objectification?

Dear Straight Talk: Regarding the thigh-gap column, most guys don’t give a hoot about thigh gaps, but most do care about being subjected to girl talk about thigh gaps, shaving, waxing, breast size, menstruation, etc. My sisters talk…

Cutter desperately wants sibling to tell on her

Dear Straight Talk: I read in Straight Talk about siblings afraid to tell on each other regarding serious issues — and you always say TELL! Well, I wish my 13-year-old sister would tell. I'm depressed and cutting but too ashamed…

Brother dislikes chauffeuring big Sis who doesn’t drive

Dear Straight Talk: I am 17 and got my license at 16. The problem is that my older sister, 19, never got her license so my parents have assigned me as her driver. I have a job, school, and other things to do. She's never even had a…

Young woman faces grim reality of childhood sexual abuse

Dear Straight Talk: A close friend is coming to terms with the fact that her alcoholic stepfather molested her when she was growing up. She never goes home because of him and is afraid that telling her mom will break up the family. She's…

Just say no to #ThighGap

Dear Straight Talk: I’m happy to observe that today’s teens seem to see the ideal female form as more curvy and less pre-pubescent than in my youth. (Thank you, Beyoncé.) Then I learned of the latest baffling body-image…

August, 2014

‘Good Kid, Bad Kid’—Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

Dear Straight Talk: In regard to your recent column on heroin addiction, it's my sister who is the drug addict. My parents spent most of our college fund for her rehabs and I now will need big student loans. They say they had no choice…

Boy’s girlfriend is pregnant, pushing him away

Dear Straight Talk: My girlfriend since last Christmas just told me she is pregnant. She is 17 and I'm 18. She's been on the pill since she was 16 but maybe forgot to take them some days?? All she does is cry, call me constantly,…

Excessive college jitters require courage breakthrough

Dear Straight Talk: I'm heading to an east-coast college this fall. My siblings all loved their college years and whenever I voice my nervousness they tell me it's normal and will get better once I'm there. Every time I talk…

Self-confidence and resourcefulness more important than “size”

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 20 and I hope you take this question seriously as a men's-rights issue because nobody talks about it except through hurtful jokes. With no concern that men might have body-image issues, girls seem to think…

July, 2014

Teaching style, not intelligence makes females less drawn to science and math

Dear Straight Talk: I'm a woman in high tech and a regular Straight Talk reader. The disproportionately small number of women in STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] is all over the news. Yet I've never seen anyone asking…

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…

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