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Direct Answers - Column for the week of May 31, 2004

I am concerned about my daughter, "Julie." She is 16 and a junior in high school. She gets fair grades, doesn't get into a lot of trouble, and doesn't smoke or do drugs as far as I know. Why the concern, you ask? It's the way she dresses.

Julie likes to wear baggy pants, T-shirts with rock band logos, skull and crossbones, or phrases such as "Psycho." She wears chains and studs on her pants, wrists, and neck. Ninety percent of her clothes are black. Just two weeks ago she cut her gorgeous, waist length white-blonde hair, dyed it black and pink, and now spikes it every day!

I would like Julie to have her individual style, but I think she is going way too far. It is crazy and also embarrassing to my husband and me. Please help me. I have nowhere else to turn!

Margaret

Margaret, with children you have to pick your battles. It sounds like Julie is a good girl who goes to school and doesn't do drugs. If she has always gotten fair grades, then nothing has changed.

If you and your husband have certain limits, such as no tattoos, no body piercing, and reasonable curfews, that's the battleground. Communicate to Julie what your limits are, and realize that beautiful white-blonde hair grows back and a wardrobe can be changed in an instant.

Julie may think she is a rebel, but all she has done is don the uniform of the group she hangs out with. The change is as permanent as her age. Let her rebel with the things which don't matter, and don't concede on anything which does matter.

If we throw love and care at our children, mixed with a reasonable amount of discipline, things almost always turn out right.

Wayne & Tamara

Too Far

I am in a great relationship for close to a year. I am divorced because my ex had an affair, and we were very unhappy. Before this I trusted each person I was with.

I trust my new girlfriend, but she has a childhood friend who is still a friend to her, and they have had sexual relations many times. In a recent trip near where he lives, I suggested we get together and have dinner. She replied it would be awkward, and she was reluctant to introduce us.

I didn't press the issue. Now my girlfriend would like to go and stay with his mother, or him as far as I know, and get away for the weekend. She mentioned she would be going to dinner and hanging out with him. She also stated what they shared is over and more experimentation than anything else.

I haven't been invited, nor would I really like to go. I am not happy about it. Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

Roger

Roger, why wouldn't you have a problem? Your girlfriend of a year is going to spend a weekend with a man she's had sex with, a man she does not want you to meet.

Her explanation that sex between them was experimental is not reassuring. Does it mean she can have sex outside a committed, long-term, monogamous relationship? Would she like this man to commit to her and he won't, but she keeps trying? Is this trip an attempt to pit one man against another?

Trust and fidelity are absolute essentials in a relationship, and she is causing you concern about both. You are worried if you put your foot down it might end the relationship, but if you foresee marriage to this woman, you must.

Wanting a relationship is one thing. Letting somebody test and break its limits is another. You can't settle for less and get more.

When someone tests the bonds of a relationship to this extent, and you don't protest, they don't respect you more. They treat you like a doormat.

Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com.

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.

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