DR. WALLACE: You once wrote that a parent should not choose a child's friends. But when a 14-year-old boy wrote saying that his father disapproved of his friends and forced him to find new friends, you agreed with his father. It seems like you're contradicting yourself. I must say that I disagree with the boy's father, and I'm disappointed that you agreed with him. Good friends should stay together and not be separated on the whim of a misguided parent. Just because this boy's friends are in trouble with the law for selling drugs doesn't mean that these friends don't have good qualities, too. It also doesn't mean that these friends will pressure the boy into selling drugs. What makes you think that this boy can't think for himself? — Anonymous, via email
ANONYMOUS: Parents should not choose a child's friends, but they have a responsibility to stop the child from hanging around kids who are likely to be bad influences. Learning that your son's friends are dealing drugs is enough to make any parent alarmed. I back the action of this boy's parents 100 percent. I'm sure most juvenile drug dealers do have some good qualities, but that isn't the point. When criminal behavior takes place, it overpowers good qualities. When this occurs, wise parents make wise decisions about their son's choice of friends.
RETURN THIS RING
DR. WALLACE: You told a girl to return a "friendship" ring to a guy she had been dating. They broke up because he had a bad temper and was always threatening to physically harm her. After they split, the guy asked to have the ring returned. The girl liked the ring and expected to keep it because it had been given as a gift. She corresponded with you and was told that she should return the ring because every time she looked at it, it would remind her of the guy who was always threatening her.
I disagree. I think she should keep the ring because she liked it. She earned it putting up with the loony guy who constantly threatened to do her harm. When a guy gives a girl a ring, it belongs to the girl.
Why do some guys give a ring to a girl and expect to have it returned when the relationship turns sour? I would never give a gift and then ask to have it returned for any reason. Once I receive a gift, it's mine for as long as I choose to keep it!
Once in a while, you change your mind on an answer you have given. Will you do it one more time? — In Disagreement With Your Answer, Springfield, Illinois
DISAGREEMENT: I'm sorry that I won't change my mind regarding the return of the "friendship" ring after this particular relationship had ended — especially since one of the "friends" had threatened the other with physical harm. I feel it would be quite wise to return the ring and end the "friendship" once and for all. Should she keep the ring, this boy's bad temper could boil over at some point in the future. Better to arrange for as amiable a separation as possible, and yes, this includes returning the ring with a smile and some mild words like "Good luck in the future."
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.