DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been in a loving relationship for a little over a year. We are both teenagers and above the age of consent in our state (I am 16). We are very much in love and incredibly happy. Recently we had a couple of serious conversations about sex, and we decided to go ahead and do it.
It was the first time for both of us and was very special. We were safe and responsible, and neither of us has any regrets. However, my parents do not know that we are sexually active, and they do not seem to trust me to be safe and responsible about my decisions.
I worry that if they found out the degree to which we are intimate, they would force us to break up. I would like to be able to talk to them about this, but I have no idea how to broach the subject, and frankly I'm scared of their reaction. Please tell me how I can talk to them and convince them that I am mature enough to handle this level of intimacy.
— Anonymous in New England
DEAR ANONYMOUS: According to the Guttmacher Institute, 7 of 10 American teens have had intercourse by age 19 and a sexually active teenager who doesn't use a contraceptive has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year.
You should go to your physician or to Planned Parenthood for a checkup and STD and birth control counseling. If you and your guy are unable to face this task together, then you should not be in a sexual relationship. Check plannedparenthood.org or call 800-230-PLAN (7526) for a local clinic.
The reason your parents might not trust you is because they were your age once and they know how momentous this choice is — and how physically and emotionally vulnerable you both are. Your parents have the utmost stake in your emotional and physical health.
Your desire to talk to your folks about this tells me that you have a good relationship and simply want to be honest with them. Share this first with the parent you are closest to, but remember this: Your honesty will also inspire their honest reaction.
They may be very upset. But if they are thoughtful, they will appreciate the opportunity to talk it through with you. (Your boyfriend should also talk to his parents.) The Planned Parenthood website also has resources for parents.
DEAR AMY: My niece and her fiancé will be getting married soon. They asked me to officiate at the ceremony, and I agreed. Another relative just told me that the couple have since asked someone else to officiate. The couple have not mentioned any change in plans to me.
Meanwhile, I went to considerable trouble and expense to secure credentials required by state law to conduct the ceremony. What, if anything, should I say to the couple?
DEAR DISSED: First, you must find out if you're going to be strapping on your mail-order clerical collar for this wedding. So ask the couple, "Am I still on tap to officiate at your wedding? I'm all official and certified, so before I do any more preparation let me know what your final plans are."
Accept their answer with equanimity. Marrying couples frequently vacillate between choices until they figure out that the figurative left hand and right hand need to work together — in wedding planning and in life. You could consider this effort and expense your wedding gift to the couple.
"Tom in Oregon" recently asked how much cash to give to young children on special occasions. My parents give my children a few hundred dollars for their birthdays. All of it goes into savings for their education.
If someone gives your child what you think is too much, just exclaim: "Wow, how thoughtful! Little Tommy's college fund just got bigger!" — and remember, your "donation" to that fund just got smaller.
— Happy Parent
DEAR PARENT: Saving is key, for parents and kids.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.