### Dealing with In-Laws Advocating Christian Parenting Approaches

Dear Amy: As a mother of a young teenager, I have invested significant effort into nurturing a foundation of trust and responsibility with my child.

I have encouraged my teen to communicate openly with me about the behaviors of their friends, both positive and negative, assuring them that I will not disclose information unless it involves serious issues such as threats of self-harm, substance abuse, weapons, pregnancy, etc.

Recently, my teen confided in me about peers engaging in vaping, marijuana experimentation, and receiving sexually explicit content, either from other teens or individuals posing as such.

While I appreciate my teen’s honesty, I was taken aback by the extent of “good” kids partaking in risky activities, potentially even falling victim to sextortion.

I am torn between wanting to inform the parents of these teenagers about what is happening and preserving the trust my child has placed in me, avoiding the label of a “snitch” among local youth.

Could you provide guidance on how I can share this information with other parents without implicating my child or breaching the trust we have cultivated?

– Torn in CA

Dear Torn: Thus far, the behaviors your child has disclosed fall within the realm of typical teenage experimentation, where boundaries are tested, and forbidden activities are explored. While concerning, these actions are not uncommon among adolescents who are navigating peer influences and societal pressures.

As there have been no reports of severe issues like suicidal threats or dangerous substance abuse, there is no immediate need to cause alarm or involve other parents.

However, if your teen expresses specific concerns about a peer heading towards a perilous path, it may be necessary to discreetly reach out to that child’s parents, exercising your parental judgment.

One aspect that warrants serious attention is the exchange of sexually explicit material, as these images can have lasting and damaging consequences. Consider discussing this particular issue with the school counselor, emphasizing the need for education on the risks associated with sharing such content, without divulging specific details.

It is crucial for schools to address these concerns and educate students on the potential repercussions of sending or receiving explicit photos, reinforcing the discussions you have at home with your teen.

Dear Amy: While my in-laws are kind individuals, they tend to view everything through a religious lens due to their strong faith.

My spouse and I, who share similar parenting values, have welcomed our first child, their grandchild. Despite our alignment on parenting decisions, my in-laws often offer advice rooted in Christian principles sourced from online platforms.

Although I respect their beliefs, we do not intend to raise our child in their evangelical church. How can we gently discourage this behavior?

– Wondering Parents

Dear Wondering: Raising a child involves real-life challenges that may not always align with religious teachings. It is important to establish boundaries regarding the influence of religious-based parenting advice, especially if it conflicts with your own beliefs and parenting approach.

If the recommendations from your in-laws become frequent or intrusive, consider politely disregarding them without engaging. If directly questioned about these resources, simply convey that you do not follow them.

Your wife, being their daughter, may be best positioned to communicate your decision not to raise your child in their church. It is your prerogative as parents to instill values that resonate with your family’s beliefs.

Dear Amy: “Wondering” shared concerns about relatives taking items from their grandmother’s estate prematurely.

In a proactive approach, my mother distributed sticky notes to family members, allowing them to mark items they wish to inherit in the future. This method preemptively resolved any potential disputes that could arise later.

By utilizing sticky notes, each family member indicated their preferences, ensuring a fair distribution without posthumous disagreements.

– No Sticky Fingers

(You can reach Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send inquiries to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)