DEAR ABBY: I have seen letters in your column from parents who want to ensure their children's and teenagers' safety when visiting their friends' homes. A question parents need to ask the hosting parents is what their drug and alcohol policy is.
We wrongly assumed (and trusted) that our daughter's friends' parents did not facilitate access to alcohol or drugs to minors. We realized -- too late -- that from the time she was 15, our daughter had access to unmonitored alcohol and was sometimes encouraged to consume it in these homes.
Many parents think it's OK if teens drink alcohol under supervision, as long as the parents are there and they have possession of the car keys. They wrongly rationalize that the teens are going to do it anyway, so why not under supervision?
What these good-time parents don't consider is that a teen who may have a genetic predisposition to addiction may have just gotten a switch turned on in his or her developing brain. You can't look at people and know if they are prone to addiction. In our case, our daughter's addiction became a long, difficult struggle, which led to the untimely death of our smart and talented daughter at age 24. -- GRIEVING MOM IN RENO
DEAR GRIEVING MOM: I am sorry for the tragic loss of your daughter. In most states, providing alcohol to minors is against the law, not only for public safety, but also for the reason you stated.
Years ago, I spoke with a gentleman who was active with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), when he repeated something he'd heard at an AA meeting. He said the subject being discussed at the meeting was what it felt like having that "very first drink." One of the members stood up and said, "It was like someone switched a light on in my head, and I said to myself, 'So that's what it's like to feel normal!'" This is why it is imperative that families with a history of addiction make their children aware of it and clearly understand why it's important they avoid addictive substances even if their friends are indulging.
DEAR ABBY: My husband is obsessed with his personal electronic devices and insists on using one most of the time. He gets angry if I ask him to stop even for a short time. But the worst part is, he routinely takes his tablet into the bathroom with him for extended periods. And no, he does not sanitize the tablet afterward -- or ever, for that matter.
Abby, he reads your column and I'm hoping you might comment on this unsafe and repulsive habit. Please help, because he won't listen to me. -- GROSSED OUT IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR GROSSED OUT: Because your husband gets angry when you ask him to put his electronics down, it appears he may have an obsession. Not only is what he's doing rude, but it isn't healthy for your marriage because communication is important between spouses. When he takes his tablet into the bathroom "for a long time," could he be viewing or texting things he wants to keep from you?
As to his hygiene habits, smartphones and tablets can be more unhygienic than toilet seats if they're used for "toilet texting." The user's hands should be washed afterward, and the device should be disinfected, too -- particularly if it will be in contact with the user's face.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)
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