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Be content just being boyfriend, girlfriend

Dear Annie: I have been dating this boy for about eight months. We are both in our teens, and we are in love, to say the least. We talked about getting promised, and I was wondering at what age would it be OK to be promised.

I would love to get promised, except for what others would think.

My friend just got engaged to her fiancee at 17, and it seems really strange, but I can see how it could be easy to say yes. Anyway, my boyfriend was thinking about getting promised on our one-year anniversary, and he has a ring too. –Young Love

Dear Young Love: Congratulations on your newfound love. What a beautiful thing it is to be in love. Focus on your relationship and your growth as individuals rather than what other people might think. Enjoy your time together as boyfriend and girlfriend, and then you can enjoy your time together as fiancees, and then, eventually, you can enjoy your time as husband and wife.

Your friend getting engaged at 17 does seem a bit young. Why the rush to marry? In most states, the law is that if you are under the age of 18, you have to have your parents’ consent. Take your time and enjoy your young love each day and every moment.

Dear Annie: There has been a recent dust-up in our family over my brother’s and his wife’s views against vaccinating their kids. My brother’s wife will, on occasion, post something on Facebook against vaccines, and some of us will respond with a differing view. This has caused tension, to say the least, and to rectify this, some of us have unfriended or unfollowed her on Facebook.

The real issue is this: My brother and his wife feel it is their right to not vaccinate. But isn’t it the rest of the family’s right to not be exposed? I bring this up because, I am immunosuppressed due to a transplant, and my aunt and uncle are both in their 90s. If the unvaccinated niece exposes us to a virus, it can quite possibly kill us. How do we associate with my brother and family without taking this risk?

My brother believes my parents caught pneumonia by getting the pneumonia shot, which is not possible. The pneumonia shot is not a live virus shot. I can counter his beliefs with many publications by the Centers for Disease Control, American Medical Association and other legitimate organizations, as well as advice from doctors, but my brother and his wife refuse to do the research on these issues. — Frustrated in Arizona

Dear Frustrated in Arizona: Your frustration is understandable, and I don’t see the dust settling anytime soon if your brother and his wife continue to not listen to doctors or research medical facts about the importance of vaccinations.

Yes, they have a right to choose not to be vaccinated. And you have a right to be concerned about your safety and that of your aunt and uncle. However, what I see missing from this dust-up is listening. Using Facebook isn’t really communicating. Have a phone call or video chat with your brother and sister-in-law. State your concerns clearly. And then listen to theirs without judgment. It sounds like your brother has serious fears from your parents developing pneumonia. By hearing him out, you might help alleviate his fears. And then he and his wife might be able to hear you in a new way.

If they still choose not to be vaccinated, and you wish to see your brother and sister-in-law, ask your doctor for guidelines. Be careful and focus on staying healthy — emotionally and physically.

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