DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend “Adam” and I are high school seniors. We have been serious for only three months, but we’ve been dating for more than a year. He is sexually experienced, but I am not – I’m still the “Big V.”

On prom night, I want Adam to be my “first,” but because I have been disappointed in the past, I don’t want to be left heartbroken. I love Adam with all my heart – he’s all I want in a guy. But I feel torn about what to do. Should I go ahead and “seize the day”? Or should I make him wait? Please help! – TEEN GIRL IN THE GAMBLING STATE

Your boyfriend may be a wonderful person, but to lose your virginity simply to celebrate prom night is not a mature decision. Sex carries with it responsibilities – and can result in unplanned “surprises,” as the following letter shows. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I was an A student in high school and was accepted into both Cornell and Stanford. I had a brilliant future in front of me on a silver platter – then I had a baby. I did not get pregnant on purpose. I had my son because I could not bring myself to get an abortion or give up my baby. It has not been an easy road.

I married my baby’s father, even though he was only one month out of high school, and I dropped out of my first year of college. The first 10 years of our marriage were spent struggling to make ends meet. He worked, making $6.25 an hour as a roofer’s apprentice. I waited tables at night, sometimes until 2 or 3 a.m., then I would get up at 6:30 a.m. to feed the baby. There was no money to go out with friends or for new clothes, and we lived in a tiny house in a bad neighborhood. Lack of money caused most of our marital problems.

Abby, as much as I loved my son, I also resented him because all my dreams were put on permanent hold and I had to live the way I did. I spent days, weeks and months crying hours at a time in despair. This was not the life I had envisioned. In the seven years that followed, I had two more sons. My youngest was the only child I was emotionally prepared for.

I am now 32. My oldest is 12, and yes, I am still married to my husband. People think we are the perfect family, but I am not sure it was worth the price we have paid. Our first two sons never quite had their mom or dad during the years when it counted most. Our marriage nearly crumbled. We both had affairs and verbally abused each other. It took more than 100 hours of expensive counseling to fix our family.

Children are the most precious blessings you can have, and they deserve two parents who are ready to treasure them for their entire life – not just when you finally get your life together 10 or 15 years down the road.

I urge all young people reading this to GET AN EDUCATION – not just in college, but life experience as well. Youth doesn’t last forever. You will no longer have a chance to be young and free once you have children. Don’t try to beat the odds. The pain left in the wake of your mistake lands squarely in your kids’ laps. – TELLING THE TRUTH IN TOLEDO

You have made an important point. It takes consistency and emotional maturity to be an effective parent. If the mother or father is still emotionally immature, as well-intended as that person may be, he or she does not have the tools to be the parent that every child deserves.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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