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Parenting with no boundaries

Dear Annie: I have great neighbors who have two daughters, ages 15 and 16. The 16-year-old has a 20-year-old boyfriend, and the 15-year-old has a live-in boyfriend who is also 15. The fact that he lives there is OK with his parents and hers.

I have walked by the room of the older girl more than once and seen her lying in bed with her boyfriend, under the covers, with the door half open. When this happens, I walk by and say hello, but I am uncomfortable as I do so. Her mother knows what they are doing.

The younger girl sleeps with her boyfriend, and the mother is aware of that and says, “It is what it is.” The girl and her boyfriend are both failing in school, and their mothers are aware of this but have not taken any steps to put them on the right path. During the day, the two are left alone while the parents work. Meanwhile, the 16-year-old is doing terrific in school. The daughters both work — in fast food and retail.

I have no children, but I would think this is wrong and is going to ruin their lives down the road. Their father goes along because, if he objects, the mother always takes the kids’ side.

Both parents do not want drama, and giving in to the kids makes for no drama. I am just waiting to hear which one of them is going to get pregnant; the mother probably would be fine with that, but I do not think the father would be.

My wife and I are considered family and included at their family gatherings. Their relatives know what is going and defend it. They say that the girls are kids and nothing will happen. I reply, “If you think so,” and they answer that I am old-fashioned. Am I? — Am I Old-Fashioned?

Dear Am I Old-Fashioned?: Having boundaries is essential for teenagers to develop maturity. These parents and relatives are acting like kids themselves. By any reasonable understanding, you are not old-fashioned. Your views reflect good parenting and common sense.

Dear Annie: This is about the letter from “Happy Nurse.” I’d like to share my story, which involved going back to school. I initially went for my nursing degree when I was a 36-year-old single mother of three daughters, having escaped an abusive relationship. I received my degree but then, three years later, lost it to addiction. I believe this was due to an unresolved sexual assault at the age of 7 and subsequent trauma. I wallowed in addiction (and self-pity, frankly) for a few years before getting clean in 2017.

I am four years sober and have spent the last four years taking random drug tests, doing two years of DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and one year of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma work. I will be 50 years old in September, and I have just finished my RN Refresher Course and been given my permit to practice as an RN in clinical settings!

After clinicals, I will spend the first two years in a nursing position on a modified license — taking random drug tests and reporting to the Minnesota Health Professionals Services Program. I may be 52 when they fully restore my RN license, but to know that I have healed myself and restored my mental health is the greatest gift. I would challenge anyone to see that it is NOT too late to realize your dream.

For me, getting to be a registered nurse again is a testament to the work I have put in, not only into myself, but into the process of restoration and realization of my dream. Please tell your readers to not give up on themselves, their dreams or their future! — Nurse

Dear Nurse: We can feel the excitement in your letter. Your pride in this major accomplishment, the first and second time around, is well deserved. Congratulations!

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette – is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

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