Dear Annie: I just discovered that my 14-year-old daughter, “Melissa,” has a MySpace account where she is posing as a 21-year-old. She posted pictures of some other female and said they were of herself.
A military man, 27 years old, has been e-mailing her, and some of his letters are rather explicit. Of course, I will take steps with my daughter to see that this does not happen again and I hope communication between us gets better. But I am furious with this man. Perhaps he legitimately thought she was 21, but I don’t believe it. Any adult with half a mind could ask the right questions and discover the writer was a child. I could tell from her first e-mail. Assuming he isn’t stupid, there is nothing else to think but that he is a predator.
I have his name, phone number and address, and I have turned that information over to the authorities in my state and the military. Please advise anyone legitimately trying to find a mate online to ask the right questions to determine whether the future mate is of age. For example, ask a supposed 21-year-old if she is in school and what subjects she’s taking. If she tells you she’s studying fractions and geometry, you know she’s barely out of grade school. — Disappointed and Furious
Dear Disappointed: Don’t be naive. Any girl who would lie about her age could just as easily lie about what subjects she’s taking in school. We know you are frightened for your daughter and worried about what might have happened, and we don’t blame you. But it is very difficult to discern the truth over the Internet. Yes, adults need to be circumspect, but all parents should supervise what their children are doing online, teaching them how to protect themselves from predators and why deliberately misrepresenting themselves can lead to major trouble or worse.
Dear Annie: What do you make of a man who finds it necessary to tell you about his past love life, how many women he’s been with, how great sex is when you are high (I don’t do drugs), and who says he is “used to having sex and lots of it”?
I have been seeing this man for three years, and every so often he comes out with this stuff. I have told him I don’t like it and don’t want to hear it, but he can’t seem to cease and desist. We are both in our 50s with grown children from previous marriages. — Too Much Information
Dear Too Much: We think your boyfriend is terribly insecure and desperate to impress you with his sexual experience. You might point out that those who are truly knowledgeable tend not to brag about it. Otherwise, if you can’t ignore him, try to laugh about it. We suspect that will take care of the problem.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Confused in California” broke my heart. His best friend, “Alex,” is gay and Dad won’t let them hang out anymore. As you can see, homophobia hurts everyone, not just gay people.
There isn’t much a 15-year-old can do when he’s living under the tyranny of such a misguided father except try his best to continue with what he believes is right and be a true friend. One day soon, both boys will be able to move away from home and be friends with whomever they like, but sadly, not soon enough.
I’m a 26-year-old gay man, and when I came out, I was lucky to have friends, gay and straight, who cared enough to help me through the difficulties with my parents. If “Confused’s” mother doesn’t share Dad’s backward attitude toward gay people, he should continue talking to her, even if she is unable to persuade his father to be more reasonable.
I wish both kids the best. The next few years are going to be tough, and they will need the kind of strong friendship they have in each other. — Supportive in Quebec
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.27.08