TEENS: Do you lay off junk food, get proper rest, exercise and ration your television and video streaming viewing time? If your answer is yes, congratulations! But you are the exception, not the rule.
According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, U.S. children 18 and younger are adding unwanted pounds at an alarming rate. In the past decade, the percentage of significantly overweight children has almost doubled.
In prior studies, it took 30 years for the overweight percentage to double. This recent report reveals alarming statistics. Among the reasons given for the increase: spending too much time watching television, using computers and playing video games and parents who feed their families with fast food more often than home cooking. Finally, a reminder: Obese teens usually spend their entire lives being overweight. Early habits often stick throughout one's lifetime, but the good news is that new habits, when followed regularly, often begin to stick with three weeks of rigorous, proactive practice.
IS OUR NEW TEACHER LEGAL?
DR. WALLACE: Our auto shop teacher had to be hospitalized for a serious injury he suffered in a recent automobile accident. He was a very good teacher and all of his students really liked and respected him. Nobody likes or respects his replacement, who is very mean and much too strict.
Yesterday he told our class that he had 20 years experience as an auto mechanic and only two years of college. If that's true, how can he be permitted to teach? My dad says it's against the law to teach without a teaching credential and a person can't get a credential unless he or she has a degree. What gives? Is this legal? — Puzzled, Phoenix
PUZZLED: In an emergency, someone without a credential or degree can be given a temporary teaching credential. In such circumstances, teachers are selected on the basis of their work experience. It appears that your auto shop teacher is completely legal, especially given his decades of hands-on work experience. Not all teachers use the same teaching techniques, but you can learn from all of them. Do your best to get as much out of this particular class as you can.
ALLOW DAD TO BE HAPPY
DR. WALLACE: I'm a 15-year-old girl in the 10th grade. My parents are divorced, and I live with my 42-year-old father. My concern is that he is dating a lady who is only 21 years old. He doesn't see anything wrong with that age difference.
It's apparently all right for him, but it is very embarrassing for me, especially because my dad's girlfriend looks young enough to be attending my high school. When people ask me who this "girl" is, I often tell them that she is my sister. It blows my mind (and grosses me out!) when I see them holding hands and kissing.
I thought about moving in with my mother, but she lives in another state and I don't want to move from high school here in California. Don't you think that it is wrong for a man to date someone much younger than he is? — Embarrassed, via email.
EMBARRASSED: I can appreciate your feelings and would certainly feel uncomfortable if I were in your shoes. However, that doesn't mean your father is doing anything wrong. It's the quality of the relationship he has with the young woman that matters, not their 21-year age difference. Since you don't want to move in with mom, you need to accept the situation and allow your dad to be happy.
However, it's important that he continues to be a good father to you, giving you support, love, guidance and quality time. If his new relationship causes him to fail being a good father to you, then that would be cause for concern.
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 [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.