Dear Amy: I'm a mom of a young teenager. I've worked hard to foster a sense of trust and accountability. I've asked my teen to be open with me about the actions of friends, good and bad, and have promised that in return for their honesty, I will not "snitch" unless a friend is in a serious situation (e.g. threats of suicide, etc.).

Recently my teen shared that some friends are starting to vape, experiment with pot and sometimes receive sexually explicit material from other teens. I never expected that my request for honesty would open up so many credible examples of "good" kids doing bad things.

I want to run to these parents and tell them what's happening, but I don't want to break trust with my child and make that child a "snitch" in the mind of their friends. Can you help me navigate a path that allows me to share what I've learned with parents while not breaking the trust I have with my child?

Amy says: Most of the things your child is telling you about are within the norm for teens, who experiment and push boundaries. They are surrounded by messages that they should not vape, smoke, drink alcohol or use pot. And yet, "good kids" do these things.

So far, you have not received any reports of "threats of suicide" or such things, so I don't see any need for you to freak out and alert other parents. The only issue you bring up that has an alarming and long-lasting downside is exchanging sexual photos. These photos truly do live forever. It is the "forever" concept that stretches a typical teen's cognitive capacity.

I suggest taking your concerns about this issue to the school counselor, without the need to supply specifics. The school must take on the task of educating their students about the risks and negative consequences of sharing explicit photos. This is a re-emphasis of the lessons and concerns you will discuss honestly with your own teen at home.

Do it your way

Dear Amy: My in-laws are nice people, but they are very religious and tend to filter everything through their religious beliefs.

My wife and I had our first child (their first grandchild). My wife and I agree on our parenting choices and believe we're doing well. Her parents, however, like to offer us Christian-based parenting concepts, which they glean from YouTube channels.

I really do love them, but I'd like to discourage this. We do not intend to raise our child in their evangelical church. What do you suggest?

Amy says: Depending on the frequency of these recommendations, as well as how they're delivered, it might be wisest to simply ignore them. Your wife is the best person to convey to her parents that you will not be raising your child in their church. It is your right — and your duty — to raise your child according to your own values.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson at