DEAR ABBY: Thank you for the compassion you showed "Wants to Be a Mom" (Nov. 24), the 15-year-old girl considering motherhood with her almost 18-year-old boyfriend. Having lost her dad at an early age and having a mother who prefers drugs over her daughter, must have made this young lady feel very unwanted. I understand why she might think a baby would give her the love she's missing.
I applaud you for not judging her, but instead kindly helping her to understand the consequences of her potential actions. I wish her the best and hope she'll have the wisdom to realize how important an education will be for her future. With luck, in a few years she'll be a young adult ready to assume the responsibilities of being a parent. -- LINDA IN MICHIGAN
DEAR LINDA: "Wants" was smart to write for advice before acting on impulse. She deserved a thoughtful response and not just a reprimand. Readers had much to say about her letter:
DEAR ABBY: At 15, I had the first of my five daughters. By the time I was 20 I was raising the babies by myself. Would I do it all over again? Not in this lifetime!
"Wants," your boyfriend is immature. He should finish school and get a job before thinking about children. You are only 15 and have your best years ahead. One thing that never crossed my mind was how I would be able to support my child without an education. I learned the hard way.
If you and your grandma aren't getting along, it's up to you to change your attitude. Grandma has more experience than you do in this world. Listening to her will help you avoid many of the pitfalls that I went through, and that you face presently. -- WAS THERE ONCE IN WASHINGTON
DEAR ABBY: I had my first child at 21, and while I love my son there are times I wish I would have waited a while. I missed out on college and figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do. My son and daughter turned out to have special needs, so my life has been busy taking care of them. Please tell that teen that having a baby is not at all like it is in TV commercials. -- MARIA IN ILLINOIS
DEAR ABBY: A mentor to teen boys told me that some of them deliberately try to impregnate girls so they'll have a "trophy" of how manly and virile they are. The more babies they help conceive, especially without having to be responsible for them, the more bragging can go on in the locker room. Every parent needs to know this behavior is going on. Some of these boys have punched holes in condoms and convinced a reticent girl to have sex -- then laughed at her and dumped her when she became pregnant. -- NURSING SCHOOL STUDENT IN WISCONSIN
DEAR ABBY: That 15-year-old's boyfriend's desire for her to have a baby seems like a control issue to me, and it will set the tone for their relationship. She needs to say no or she will most likely be under his power for the foreseeable future. I have seen this happen too many times with high school girls. -- FORMER TEACHER IN THE NORTHWEST
DEAR ABBY: Some states will accuse the young man of statutory rape, and he could end up in jail and be branded a sex offender for life. And the girl will wind up with a baby, no education and no husband to help her. Children have no business having children. -- FLORIDA READER
DEAR ABBY: Tell that girl and her boyfriend that if they want a baby, they must support that baby on their own. Those of us who are working and raising families are tired of entitlements the young ones count on for support. Life is hard. It's expensive. And it is about more than what you "want" on a whim. -- KATHY IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR ABBY: Please tell her to visit Planned Parenthood. It promotes responsible parenting and healthy sexuality. I checked its website and there's an office in Blacksburg, Va., not far from where she lives. My best to her. -- SOMEONE WHO CARES IN NEW YORK
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)