Indecent exposure

Joey doesn’t drink from the mainstream.

My 16-year-old daughter is obsessed with her boyfriend. My husband wanted to restrict their contact from the beginning, but I intervened. I explained that having a boyfriend was really important socially and emotionally during the teen years. I was wrong. Her grades have dropped significantly. I logged on to her computer to see what she has been doing and discovered that she had e-mailed indecent photos of herself to her boyfriend. I haven’t told my husband because he will blame me. What should I do?

Prepare to be fully humbled. Go to the bathroom, look in the mirror and tell yourself: “I was wrong.” If you say it to yourself first, it will be a bit easier to admit it to your husband, which is your next step. Even if he blames you, don’t bother defending yourself. Let him get his “I told you so” out and don’t hold it against him, even if he repeats it more often than you like.

When you talk to your daughter, let her know how it felt to discover the photos and to realize who she has become. Then focus on the consequences of her choice. Only one in 100 people marry their high-school sweetheart. So if she and her boyfriend are among the other 99, those salacious photos can be posted, sold or used to threaten her. If posted on the Internet, sex pics can be seen by colleges or potential employers and shortcut her future. It will be difficult for her to grasp these scenarios, because teenagers think mostly in the present. But remember, good parenting includes planting seeds. You may also wish to impose rules about her continued contact with her boyfriend and move her computer somewhere less private. Whatever choices you make as parents, be certain not to overreact and implement rules that drive her further away from you and closer to her guy.

My 25-year-old son lost his job last September and his apartment recently. Now he is couch surfing and getting by on money he makes teaching guitar. I have been thinking about telling him that he can move home if he does chores, finds real employment and saves what he earns. My wife likes the household as is, with no kids in it. What should I do?

Don’t rescue your son, save your marriage instead, at least until your son asks for your help. You’re probably thinking his lifestyle is hell. But he might think it’s cool not to be stuck in a 9-to-5 gig and to be free from the burden of bills. If you raised him right, living hand to mouth will lose its appeal and he will cast around for a steady job. Or he will launch a creative scheme that has energy, intelligence and potential. Or he will ask if he can move back in. That’s right, you should trust him to arrive at a new destination on his own.

I read online dating profiles and get excited by the possibilities, but I don’t take action because I already know that who these men are rarely matches what they wrote. Sometimes I think that I should have stayed married. But when my married friends open up, I’m glad to be single. But I can’t keep wasting time looking through online profiles and wondering. What is wrong with me?

Nothing. That’s my vote, anyway. The hopeful, dreamer side of you is in conflict with the realist side. It may seem like sanity to say: “I’m abstaining from dating,” but don’t. It’s a weak attempt to feel safe and superior (“I reject dating, it can’t reject me!”) while denying disappointment. Why not remain open? Living in the realm of all possibilities is far juicier.

Meditation of the Week

“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly,” said actress Julie Andrews. What area of your life would benefit if you became a disciple of discipline this year?