One of my greatest teaching tools is the Dear Abby column. I’ve read the Dear Abby column everyday since I was a teenager. There were a lot of things I didn’t do because I read the problems, learned the consequences and decided they would get in the way of my hopes and dreams. My advice to every health teacher and or counselor is to subscribe to a newspaper that features her column every day. Since the 1950’s the Dear Abby (column) has answered letters from people who have real life problems. Kind of like everyone we know. About every week or two, I’ll read one of her columns that I can related to my health curriculum. I’ll use it in my students daily Q/A, 5 minute assignment. It gives students an opportunity to practice wise decision making. After viewing the consequence of poor decision making, they learn from the mistakes of others, problem solve and write advice/solutions. When you know your kids, you know what they can relate to, have or are experiencing or if it will just be a column used to make them think about future decisions.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Always get them thinking. It will totally mess up all their previously known beliefs, which we adults now know as foolishness. The students will have a variety of opinions based on personal experience or observed real life experiences. The more opinions the students hear leads to what I refer to “I didn’t think of that moments” and a consideration of doing something different than the hurt letter writer.
Here is an example of A Dear Abby column, Marietta Journal
May 9, 2018 — Mom Wants to Move Past the Father of her Children to Find a Relationship
Dear Abby: I’m a 31-year-old mother of two — a 3 year-old and a 2 month-old. My children have the same father. We co-parent, which has its ups and downs (more downs). We have been friends with benefits for 5 years, longer than we were a true couple.
Recent I found out he has introduced our kids to another woman he’s dating. I feel hurt because I have feelings for him that I can’t let go of. How do I keep from falling apart from the loss of the only relationship I know? I know it’s over, but I can’t help hoping we will get back together. —Hopelessly In love
TEACHER NOTE: Feature this on the board. The students will see it. Their assignment is to answer 5 questions: you know your class—this can be written or verbal.
1. What is the problem?
Teacher Note: You will get a variety of answers such as:
If the students have not mentioned the problem is the idea of friends with benefits, Ask the students for a complete definition of a FRIEND WITH BENEFITS. And write the definition on the board.
The definition of friends with benefits is — you are not even a girlfriend. You are merely a commodity. A commodity is something to be used, then exchanged for another commodity.
Place these relationship positions in order of value in society. (This may be provocative, but Hopelessly in Love didn’t know this. Her and her children’s sad consequences was predictable.)
wife fiancee girl friend friend who happens to be a girl friend with benefits.
Teacher Note — This is a teaching opportunity. Her problem is she doesn’t/didn’t understand men. (This story is why I teach the difference between men and women.) The male fantasy is to have access to as many beautiful women as desired without risk of rejection or consequence. A man gives up this fantasy for an exceptional woman. An exceptional woman is someone that a male determines is worth pursuing and competing for. Men can be very competitive. https://thehealthymindcurriculum.com/difference-men-women/
2. What are her options for the future?
TEACHER NOTE: I have learned when people are not emotionally involved, they give really good advice. You will be surprised at what your students say.
3. Miss Hopelessly in Love does not know what to do. She needs good advice to guide her future. The students can answer by themself or they can consult with a partner. Write one to two paragraphs.
Abby’s advice was — Because you must interact with him regularly, it may not be easy. A step in the right direction would be to stop stowing your own emotional life in the deep freeze waiting for him to come back. Because it may take a dose of reality to regain control of your emotions, ask him to level with you about why your relationship didn’t lead to marriage. Something important was missing or it would have happened when you had his first child.
The kids know what is valuable. They always pick the best option.
4. What would you rather have: Then explain your reason/reasons.
a. Diamond ring or Cubic Zirconia ring (a diamond alternative)
b. New MDX Acura or New Toyota Corolla
c. Used car with 20,000 miles or 60,000 miles or 120,000 miles
d. What would a parent want their daughter to be, someones
friend that just happens to be a girl
friend with benefits
5. Did Hopelessly in Love know 5 years ago she was making a terrible choice for her future. If no explain your answer
if yes explain your answer
Teacher Note: Might be a good time to bring this up. Below is an article about what used to be called the Protestant work ethic which is/was a sociological and economic philosophy which would have helped Miss hopelessly in love with this sad experience.
The Sequence’ Is the Secret to Success
Go to school, work, marry, have children. Why do we fail to convey this message?