Dear Straight Talk: I’m 16, sharing a room with my 13-year-old sister because our single-parent mom can’t afford otherwise. My sister snooped, found my hidden condoms and now she’s blackmailing me. I have to pay her from my part-time job, which barely covers my expenses, make her bed and clean her part of the room. If she tells, I’ll be grounded and probably unable to see my girlfriend anymore. My girlfriend and I both turn 17 this year, have over a B average and have never been in trouble. You might say we shouldn’t be having sex at our age, but it’s not uncommon and I’m writing about the blackmail. — Blackmailed in Sacramento
Brie, 22, San Francisco: Your sister is watching too much “Gossip Girl.” Tell your mom yourself. I was sexually active at 16, as are many others. You’re being safe, you’re earning your own money. Being honest shows additional responsibility. This warrants a sit-down talk, not grounding. Take the high road and don’t tattle on your sister. She sounds stressed, and open communication with your mom will set a good example. I hardly told my mom anything in high school, and I regret that. Parents can be surprisingly understanding.
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