Son may have to learn dating lesson the hard way

DEAR ANNIE:My 21-year-old son, "Charlie," a college junior, is dating a 16-year-old high-school sophomore. His father and I are sick with worry. We sat Charlie down and explained that he is being unfair to such a young girl and risking jail, as well as his future. In addition, Charlie has been working toward obtaining a job that requires an extensive background check, and this relationship is no secret.

Charlie thinks we are overreacting. He is certain this girl would "never do that to him" and that the relationship will not affect his job prospects. Her parents are aware they are dating and put no restrictions on their daughter. Because we do not want our son to date her, this young lady thinks we don't like her, which is not so.

Do you have any advice for us, Annie? Part of me wants to back off, thinking some of her appeal is that we don't approve. On the other hand, I am considering telling Charlie that if he doesn't follow our rules, he doesn't live in our house. I don't want a prison sentence to make my son realize he's made a huge mistake. — Worried in NYC

DEAR NYC:In New York, a person under the age of 17 is considered incapable of giving consent, which means if this girl and your son are having sex, he could be convicted of a criminal act even if his girlfriend doesn't accuse him.

We also wonder why a 21-year-old man is interested in a high-school sophomore. Kicking him out of the house is unlikely to wake him up, and if her parents are neglectful and uncaring, there's not much you can do. Enlist someone whose opinion your son respects to talk some sense into him. But at some point, you can no longer protect your children and must let them learn their lessons the hard way. Sorry.


DEAR ANNIE:My wife of 16 years is depressed about gaining weight. She has given birth to two wonderful children and, according to her, is about 40 pounds overweight. I'm not the ideal weight, either, and could stand to lose the same amount.

Annie, I tell my wife every day how gorgeous and sexy she is, and I mean those words from the bottom of my heart. How can I make her understand that she is as beautiful as the day we met? She needs no makeup to look spectacular. If she walked into a room wearing rags, she would still be the prettiest woman in the place. I hate seeing her sad. Her smile is too pretty to hide. Any advice? — Chris in Massachusetts

DEAR CHRIS:It's obvious that you love your wife, but her self-image has taken a hit you can't easily fix. Women are particularly susceptible to societal pressure to be thin, and after two kids, her body may look substantially different than she'd like. Since you also need to lose weight, enlist her help. Get into a workout regime, and ask her to join you so she can provide incentive and encouragement — for you. It could do you both a world of good.

DEAR ANNIE:Here is yet another hair coloring story. Recently, while I was sitting in a hospital waiting area, I saw an older man get up to visit the restroom. Upon his return, he sat down next to me and proceeded to get comfortable by leaning on my shoulder. I said nothing, waiting for his wife to discover what he had done. She finally got his attention and said, "We are sitting over here."

He then looked at me and realized his mistake. He gasped and stuttered for a second and said, "I just saw the white hair and sat down." I will be 80 this fall, and it's nice to know I can still pick up the boys. — Joan

DEAR JOAN:Your letter was too cute not to share with our readers. Thanks for a good chuckle.

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