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Tell Me About It | by Carolyn Hax

At 16, sweet teen needs to learn some manners

At Sweet 16, teen needs

to learn some manners

Q: My sister and I are throwing my niece, "Brittany," her Sweet 16 Party. Brittany mentioned to us that she doesn't want any gifts, instead she would like cash, checks or gift certificates. Is it appropriate to put this request in the invitation? And if it is okay, how should we word it so it doesn't seem like we are imposing on anyone?

New Jersey

A: How about a Twit 16 Party — nothing sweet about it, but she does get to shop herself lightheaded with other people's money.

No, it's not appropriate to put shakedowns in invitations, and there's no way to phrase one to make it not sound like one.

You and your sister are in a position of authority. Please explain to this girl how profoundly rude it is to tell your guests you don't want their stuff but, ah, you do want their money. It's a great cause, to see that one less sense of entitlement is unleashed upon the world.

Be honest with yourself

and your relationship

Q: I am 16, and I have been in a relationship with a guy for a little over a year. We were best friends before going out, so we usually get along very well. That is, until recently. Recently we have stopped talking and doing things together, and I have been thinking about breaking up. I love this guy but I just don't feel the relationship anymore. I'm wondering if I should: (a) break it off, and run the risk of never being able to repair our friendship; (b) leave it and see what happens; or (c) tell him what I've been thinking and find out his opinion.

No matter what I choose, my dignity and pride are the most important things to me, and because of this, I do not want to choose something that would hurt either one. Since I'm young, I don't know if I should expect this relationship to go anywhere. Should I?

Hopelessly Undecided

A: Well, no. Not because you're young, even though just a few young loves make it while the vast majority don't, but because few loves of any age make it while the vast majority don't. The only thing people can do, at any age, is summon the courage to let things run their natural course.

This isn't to be mistaken for a vote in favor of (a), which is just running, or (b), which is just hiding. Choosing (c) — an honest talk with your friend — is where the courage kicks in. You speak honestly about your sense that things have changed between you, despite your fear of the consequences, and you let him speak honestly, despite your fear of the consequences. Even if it's an unhappy outcome, it's an outcome based on who both of you really are, and that automatically recommends it above the alternatives.

Be careful also not to mistake "saving face" for "dignity."

The former is about avoiding, at all costs, the appearance of failure. True dignity is about showing respect for everyone involved, yourself included, without regard for how it may appear. Honesty may get awkward; it usually does. Nevertheless, the most effective form of self-preservation is to do what you think is right.



Advice

At 16, sweet teen needs to learn some manners

06/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:55pm]
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