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New guide for teen girls is blunt
By Mary Lou Aguirre, Fresno Bee
February 25, 2008

Can a guide for teenage girls be too blunt?

Richard M. Dudum, author of "What Your Mother Never Told You: A Survival Guide for Teenage Girls" (Island Publishing, $14.95), argues parents don't have the luxury of "sitting back and thinking everything will be fine."

The San Francisco resident has four children ages 13, 15, 19 and 21. His experience talking with young people comes from 25 years as a summer camp director. Teens shared their problems with Dudum, and he listened. Their concerns covered dating, drinking and peer pressure.

"Teens are in a real jam," he says during a phone interview. "They face expectations at every turn from parents, friends and boyfriends. It's difficult for these kids to make solid decisions about how to conduct themselves."

Chapters in the book, published in November, include "Don't Dress or Act Like a Ho," "Sex Is Often the Beginning of the End" and "Alcohol Is No Excuse for Bad Decisions."

On flirting, he writes: "It's OK if you kiss a boy. The problem starts when you kiss so many boys that they start comparing notes and talking smack about you. How many boys do you think you can kiss before the comparisons start and the bad reputation kicks in?"

Dudum, a cancer survivor, says writing the book had been on his to-do list for many years.

"I talk to my kids and take the time to listen," he says. "They know my advice is coming from my heart. My kids want their friends to make good decisions. They are happy I've written the book."

On the topic of drinking, he writes: "If you are at a party and someone offers you a drink but you don't drink, thank the person and say you don't drink. That's your decision. If the person doesn't respect your decision, that's their problem, not yours. You should never be ashamed of your morals, decisions or the good choices you make."

Dudum offers this advice to girls who drink: "Keep an eye on fruit-flavored hard liquor, which can fool you into drinking more than you realize. Keep track of how many drinks you've had. If you can't keep track, you've had too many."

Dudum is no less straightforward when covering sexually transmitted diseases and the acts some teenagers consider safe sex. "Your parents may be uncomfortable addressing this topic, but someone needs to speak out, so here goes. From a boy's perspective, [these acts] are great. If you are with the wrong boy, he adds a notch to his belt of girls who are naive, curious, young, foolish, insecure and willing."

Trust me, this book is a far cry from Ann Landers and her pamphlets on "petting."

Dudum, who got input from teens, e-mailed me a link to a newscast about the book from a station in Wichita, Kan.: "Controversial new book shocks parents." The segment interviewed teens from a local Boys and Girls Club and its director, Stephanie Hollimon.

Hollimon is quoted: "I think the whole key to what this book is about is to be open and express what your feelings are." The book is available at amazon.com and has been reviewed by parents.

Dudum, 48, doesn't regret the language in the book. He says the book connects with teens.

"I put my heart and soul in the book," he says. "I believe in my heart, as kids read the book, they learn from it. My main goal for teens is to avoid people, places and situations that put them in harm's way. I think it should be required reading for high school freshmen."

I asked Dudum about any negative feedback.

"I have had 15 reviews on Amazon, and to my surprise, the unfavorable remarks are from people who haven't read the book," he says.



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