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Avoid Colds; Wash Hands DR. WALLACE: You said that washing one's hands is a great way to avoid colds and other infections. Please enlighten me on when I should always wash my hands. It seems I always have a cough and a runny nose. — April, St. Paul, Minn. APRIL: Hand …Read more. It Appears That Mom Favors Your Brother DR. WALLACE: When I was reading the letter from a teenage girl who complained that her mother favored her brother over her, it made me think about my own situation. Even though you didn't think it was a big problem, it was to her, and it is to me. …Read more. Don't Allow the Father to Return DR. WALLACE: I'm 19 and have a 9-month-old son. The baby's father (we're not married) also lived with us because I thought I loved him. He was verbally abusive to me. He's also involved with drugs, both as a user and a seller. About a month ago I …Read more. I found a Loving, Compassionate Mother DR. WALLACE: I'm not a teenager. I'm a 41-year-old mother and I'm addressing this email to all the parents who read your column. I was the mother of a wonderful, intelligent and beautiful young daughter who was suddenly taken from me on a snowy …Read more.
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I Couldn't Make Him Change His Ways


DR. WALLACE: Although I am not a teenager, I read your column regularly. Recently, I read a letter from a girl who could have been me when I was younger. I would like to address my letter to Alyssa from Wheeling, W.Va. She asked your advice about a guy who had three nasty habits. He smokes, drinks and abuses drugs. She said that she is a straight arrow and has never been involved in such unacceptable behavior and believes she could get him to stop all three nasty habits.

I, too, once believed I had the power to "help" someone change his ways. When I was 15, I dated a guy who was 17. He was very much involved in cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol and cocaine. He was bombed about every weekend. Sometimes he skipped school just to get high. My parents thought this guy was a loser and tried to get me to stop seeing him, but I still saw him because I thought my love would change him. I told him that I would stop seeing him if I ever caught him using cocaine again. I thought after he stopped using cocaine, I'd convince him to eliminate marijuana, then alcohol and finally tobacco.

Unfortunately, he didn't stop any of his "habits." In fact, things grew worse and he began stealing to support his addictions. After several run-ins with the law, he wound up in a halfway house in Texas. I finally came to the conclusion after feeling deprived, disappointed and frustrated, that I couldn't make him change because his love of drugs was stronger than his love for me. He was the only one who could change his life around.

Alyssa, please do yourself a big favor and do not try to change the guy you care for.

Stop dating him, but let him know that you will be willing to listen if he wants to talk. Say that you will remain his friend but that the relationship is over. - Ella, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

ELLA: Some people do change their nasty habits, but they first must want to change and then ask for help so that they can change. Thanks for your message; it's right on!


DR. WALLACE: I really need your help. Last week, I met a super nice guy at the mall. We talked for about two hours and when it was time for me to go home, he asked me for my telephone number, and I gave it to him. Last night, he called and asked me to go out with him to a movie and dinner.

I was flattered and said yes, unless my mom says no. Well, my mom said no because Mike is 19 years old. She said that the age difference was too great. I disagree. I'm the one who knows him, and I know the age difference isn't too great. I'll admit that he is very mature for 19 (He also smokes and says he drinks on occasion), but I'm also a very mature 16-year-old. Many take me to be 19, both in looks and in my mental makeup. Do you think I should be able to go out with Mike? My mom said if you said yes, she would reconsider. - Pam, St. Paul, Minn.

PAM: I'd really like to be a good guy and give you the answer that you want, but I agree with mom that, at 16, a three-year age difference is just too great.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



2 Comments | Post Comment
LW1: He couldn't change because his love for you wasn't as strong as his love for drugs? Well, you may be older but you are definitely not wiser. People change for themselves. They never change for other people and it has absolutely nothing to do with how much they love you. You played a dangerous game. You decided to test your value by chasing a damaged boy and you lost. Now you're claiming that he just loved the drugs more than you. Get some therapy and repair your damage.

LW2: Why go out with a guy you can't legally be with? He isn't mature - he's stupid. And the fact that you think you're both mature is a perfect example of why you are not.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Diana
Fri Mar 2, 2012 12:24 PM
Disagree with you on LW1, Diana -- you're splitting hairs. Looks to me like she's just using language a teen is going to be able to relate to, rather than "people change for themselves." Yeah, some people change purely for themselves -- after they've realized that they can't get what they want (job, lifestyle, romantic partner) because of the drugs. Just read an interview last week with a guy who said he fought his drug addiction so he wouldn't lose his family. In other words, he was more afraid of life without his family than without drugs.

LW2: I might have been less opposed had you met this super-nice guy in school instead of at the mall. There are 19 YO seniors, usually boys, whose parents waited until they were 6 to enroll them in kindergarten; there are 19 YO guys who are straight arrows. If he were in school, you'd at least have some common ground and common circles of acquaintances.

This guy, though, has none of that. You want to be with him mostly BECAUSE of the age difference -- he seems glamorous and worldly compared to the guys you know , and you think that will make you these things, too. In fact, smoking and underage drinking is more a sign of immaturity than maturity -- you just haven't seen enough of life yet to recognize that. Allow yourself that time to be a teen rather than to try to push yourself into what you think is adult behavior. Your mom is right.,
Comment: #2
Posted by: hedgehog
Sat Mar 3, 2012 6:13 AM
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