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Monday, February 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Annie’s Mailbox: Adult taking a risk by dating teenager

By Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: My 21-year-old son, “Charlie,” a college junior, is dating a 16-year-old high-school sophomore. His father and I are sick with worry. We sat Charlie down and explained that he is being unfair to such a young girl and risking jail, as well as his future. In addition, Charlie has been working toward obtaining a job that requires an extensive background check, and this relationship is no secret.

Charlie thinks we are overreacting. He is certain this girl would “never do that to him” and that the relationship will not affect his job prospects. Her parents are aware they are dating and put no restrictions on their daughter. Because we do not want our son to date her, this young lady thinks we don’t like her, which is not so.

Do you have any advice for us, Annie? Part of me wants to back off, thinking some of her appeal is that we don’t approve. On the other hand, I am considering telling Charlie that if he doesn’t follow our rules, he doesn’t live in our house. I don’t want a prison sentence to make my son realize he’s made a huge mistake. – Worried in NYC

Dear NYC: In New York, a person under the age of 17 is considered incapable of giving consent, which means if this girl and your son are having sex, he could be convicted of a criminal act even if his girlfriend doesn’t accuse him.

We also wonder why a 21-year-old man is interested in a high-school sophomore. Kicking him out of the house is unlikely to wake him up, and if her parents are neglectful and uncaring, there’s not much you can do. Enlist someone whose opinion your son respects to talk some sense into him. But at some point, you can no longer protect your children and must let them learn their lessons the hard way. Sorry.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail your questions to

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