DR. WALLACE: My father is a good provider and I love him very much, but when he gets mad at my mother, my brother or me, he swears and says some nasty things. We've tried everything we can to get him to stop swearing, but nothing has worked. Is there anything you can do to help us? He really is a good fellow, and would be almost perfect if it weren't for his "blue tongue." — Nameless, Pharr, Tex.
NAMELESS: Just printing your letter and having your father read it should bring a vast improvement in his vocabulary. Sometimes the power of the pen can solve a difficult problem.
There is no excuse for a parent to swear and say nasty things to his family. It's a serious flaw in your father's character and he must stop his despicable behavior immediately!
YOUR TEACHER SHOULD BE COMMENDED
DR. WALLACE: I'm in the eighth grade and I'm an average student, but I do have a little problem with math. Because of this, my math teacher makes me stay after school every day for 20 minutes while she gives me individual instruction. I really don't like this because I want to go home with my friends when school's over.
I know you wouldn't be happy if your boss made you stay after work for 20 minutes every day for individual instruction. I'd like to know if the teacher has the right to force me to do this, or if she's violating my constitutional rights. Please let me know if this is the case. If it turns out she's trampling on my rights I'd like to tell her where to go. - Billy, Columbus, Ohio.
BILLY: Authorized school personnel (teachers, counselors, administrators) are legally empowered to act "in loco parentis" — in place of parents. Simply put, they can legally do anything your parents would be allowed to do in looking out for your interests. So, yes, your teacher does have the right to give you mandatory special instruction after school. A parent can stop the special after-school instruction, but somehow I don't think this will happen.
Instead of complaining, you should be thankful your teacher cares enough to work with you and make sure you understand the subject. Don't forget, she's doing this without being paid anything extra for her effort. Personally, I feel she should be commended.
YOU ARE NOT A COOL DUDE
DR. WALLACE: I wore a sweatshirt to school and the assistant principal told me to take it off because it had "Enjoy Safe Sex" printed on the front of it. I told him that he didn't have the right to make me take the sweatshirt off and he then called my mother and told her to come to school and take me home because I was suspended for three days.
My mom and I think the assistant principal overreacted. How would you have handled this case if you had been the assistant principal? — Mike, Oakland, Calif.
MIKE: I would have suspended you for three days. It was a stupid thing for you to do. I believe you were only looking to attract attention as a "cool dude."
Your mother needs to take a parenting class that includes instruction on proper school attire!
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.
Photo credit: Alan Levine