Straight Talk Advice

Weekly Column Archives

December, 2013

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, and…

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 in this country compared to homicides. Suicide is called…

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…

Draining friend wants to drain pocketbook next

Dear Straight Talk: I work full time and live on my own while attending community college. A close friend is constantly leaning on me for emotional support around guys, school, body image, etc. I like her, but she is often depressed and…

July, 2013

Why is everybody Bi?!

Why is a bisexual "movement" taking place in such huge numbers, seemingly out of the blue? I'm dedicated to young people and don't judge them for their choices, friends, or decisions. Everyone is entitled to their happiness and their unique sexual…

Are daughter and best friend intimate during sleepovers?

Dear Straight Talk: I've been searching for insight regarding our 13-year-old daughter. Public affection with her best friend "Ashley" has increased and it seems they are intimate behind an always-closed door. I don't think my daughter…

Teen terrified by abusive parents

Dear Straight Talk: I have an incredibly bad relationship with my parents. Many tell me to call CPS (Child Protective Services), however, a friend taken from her drug-addicted mom says foster care was horrible and that I shouldn't do…

Teen fears Mom’s gay marriage will cause bullying

Dear Straight Talk: Now that gay marriage is legal again in California, our mom is marrying her "fiancé" in August. They are planning a formal church wedding announced in the newspaper and we are moving into her fiancé's…

Fashion police (Mom) wants low down on short shorts

Dear Straight Talk: I have school shopping to do and while I like my kids to pick out their own clothes, I often find myself in the role of "fashion police." Many of the shorts are so short and the tops so low-cut or sheer. What does the…

13-year-old confused about sexual orientation

Dear Straight Talk: Please don't judge me! I'm 13 and very confused about my sexual orientation. I don't know if I'm straight or bisexual. When I see a cute guy, I daydream about him constantly. When I see a pretty girl,…

June, 2013

Boss’s yelling has boy dreading his job

Dear Straight Talk: I hate my job. I'm a 16-year-old guy and my parents think I should be working this summer. I agree and managed to land a decent restaurant job. However, the owner yells and belittles me about everything. It's…

Teen unable to process death of parent

Dear Straight Talk: I’m 16. This year, my family faced hard times that I'm afraid my friends can't really understand. My mom died three months ago after years of fighting breast cancer. I never told my friends about her illness…

New stepdad asks for on-the-job tips for being a great stepdad

Dear Straight Talk: How nice to discover this forum! I'm a new stepfather to a boy, 14 and a girl, 16. Their mother has had full custody for eight years. Please advise as to the ideal stepfather. What's the worst thing I can do?…

Avoid R.I.P.s: Create safety net for those who have cleaned up

Dear Straight Talk: I want to make everyone aware of something that cost me my son Joshua's life. Several of his friends died in high school. He first buried his feelings with marijuana, then switched to alcohol in order to pass drug…

May, 2013

Older sister needs to get thoughts under control

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 17 with a 12-year-old brother who I love very much. I've always been a good big sister to him and he comes to me for consolation and advice. We have to share a bedroom and seeing each other nude has never…

Is Facebook use slacking off?

Dear Straight Talk: A middle school teacher friend of mine says he’s noticed his students are less interested in Facebook. My 16- and 19-year-old are constantly on Facebook, which drives me crazy, as a father, because I feel it distracts…

Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 17 and being seduced by a "Mrs. Robinson.” She’s a rich divorced friend of my mom's in her 40s, in great shape and very attractive. First she offered me good money to do yard work. Then she started…

Should Mom share her prom-night story?

Dear Straight Talk: My daughter, 17, always attends prom. She is curious about my prom experience. I wasn't popular in high school, but right before graduating, a boy I'd just met asked me to his school's prom. WOW! I was making…

April, 2013

Shy freshman mortified over school showers

Dear Straight Talk: I'm a high school freshman and very private about my body. I can't handle anybody seeing me naked except my sister and my best friend. Not even my mom. Our gym teacher told us, with hot weather coming, everyone…

Brother blackmailed over condoms

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16, sharing a room with my 13-year-old sister because our single-parent mom can’t afford otherwise. My sister snooped, found my hidden condoms and now she's blackmailing me. I have to pay her from my…

Big Sis wants Lil’ Sis to forgive her

Dear Straight Talk: I’m ashamed to say I was like "No Slut's" sister [column MAR 26]. In addition to having a terrible reputation, which gave my younger sister a bad reputation, I did everything to make her life miserable. The…

Toxic stress + bad diet = HUGE PROBLEMS

Dear Straight Talk: I have the opportunity to observe teenagers without being a teacher, administrator or counselor. I notice three things: 1) Those getting into trouble have stressful home lives and parent issues. 2) These kids commonly…

Do I tell on sibling regarding Adderall use?

Dear Straight Talk: After reading the warning signs of Adderall abuse in your recent column (MAR 19), I'm 99 percent sure my older brother is on Adderall or something similar. He’s paranoid about his grades being perfect so he…

March, 2013

Getting past a false reputation in high school

Dear Straight Talk: I’m 16 and my sister (a senior) has the deserved reputation of a "slut." Our mom is an alcoholic who will sleep with anybody, even with my sister and me right in the next room, so I think my sister learned from…

Academic doping with Adderall not road to excellence

Dear Straight Talk: My very stressed-out son admitted using Adderall as a "study drug." He says he needs it to be competitive. He buys it at high school for $3 a pill, saying, "you can get it everywhere." I had no idea this was such a widespread…

Hung-up over “using the facility”? We don’t think so

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16 with a 14-year-old sister and 11-year-old brother. We live with our mom in a three-bedroom apartment with only one bathroom. Everyone needs to get ready at the same time in the morning. Our mom says she and…

Undressing in front of gay stepsister presents quandary

Dear Straight Talk: I'm 16 with a stepsister the same age. We share a room during visitations and have become good friends. She has confided that she is gay and is having gay sex with a gay friend. She said she is not ready to come…

February, 2013

Hover-parented girl wants help finding herself

Dear Straight Talk: My parents have always dominated my life. I’m a junior at a college I hate. I play college sports and a musical instrument I'd rather not play. I’ve never worked, being too busy being "enriched." I sound…

Is boss out to lunch regarding wages?

Dear Straight Talk: My boss keeps telling me young people have it easy today. But I’ve worked 40 hours a week at $12 an hour for eight months and have been unsuccessful at saving money for college. I ride a bicycle six miles to work,…

Abuser seeks help to break pattern

Dear Straight Talk: I grew up with my stepfather regularly knocking my mother around when he was drunk and being emotionally abusive to both her and me. She would never stand up to him or leave him and I hated both of them for participating…

“Babe Magnet” dishes advice for girls

Dear Straight Talk: As a certified "babe magnet" at a large high school, for all you girls interested in guys like me — and there are a lot of you — could you please be a little harder to get? When a girl lets me have it too…

January, 2013

In love with troubled stepbrother. Now what?

Dear Straight Talk: My stepfather has a son a year older than me who didn’t live with us because my stepdad didn’t have custody. Since we weren’t blood related, I had a crush on “Unknown.” I didn’t hear…

Racism alive and (un)well, to dismay of teen

Dear Straight Talk: I’m 16. My cousins, adopted from Kenya, ages 14 and 15 are visiting. I never figured my friends were prejudiced, but my best friend says she isn’t “comfortable” staying the night “right…

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