Dad's Promise Has Shifted

By Dr. Robert Wallace

February 25, 2020 4 min read

DR. WALLACE: My father promised to quit smoking if I made the honor roll at my high school. A week before the holiday break, they announced the honor roll, and my name was on it! I was thrilled because this meant my dad was going to quit smoking! All of my extra studying paid off.

The day I made the honor roll, my dad said he was very, very proud of me, and he told me that he'd never have another cigarette as long as he lived. He placed his hand on the Bible when he said it. So far, he has kept his word about cigarettes, but now instead of cigarettes, he is smoking cigars!

I think this is big-time cheating! He says if I make the honor roll one more semester, he'll quit using tobacco in any form. I don't know if he has made any progress with this health by going from cigarettes to cigars, but I highly doubt it. The cigar smoke smells so bad I can hardly stand it. I'm really frustrated because I am still breathing secondhand smoke, just in a different (and very stinky!) form. Do you agree with me or with him? What should I do now? — Feeling Cheated but Not Yet Defeated, Chattanooga, Tennessee

FEELING CHEATED: I agree with you! Your father violated the spirit of his agreement. While it sometimes helps a student to have an outside motivation to make the honor roll, your father is most unwise to make his own long-term health the bargaining chip for this purpose. His decision to quit smoking should not be contingent upon your grades. He should man up and quit smoking right away AND continue to root for you to make the honor roll again. While I don't like the game he's playing, I would urge you to continue trying your hardest to make the honor roll. The big reward will be yours by getting good grades no matter what your father does or does not do. And if your father sticks to the spirit of his deal next time, he'll be a winner, too.


DR. WALLACE: Last night, I babysat for a husband and wife who went to the movies. I have babysat for them several times. About an hour after they left, the wife's teenage brother knocked on the door and said he needed to use the phone because of an emergency, so I let him in.

He used a telephone in the bedroom, and, as he was talking, I saw him going through the dresser drawers. I don't know what he was looking for. After he hung up, he asked me not to say anything about his being in the house. I didn't feel guilty before, but now I do. I should have told the woman about her brother's actions. Is it too late to tell them now, or should I just keep quiet? — Guilty Conscience, via email

GUILTY CONSCIENCE: This little brother had no business rummaging around in his sister's house without her knowledge. He also put you in an awkward position. He gave you a plausible reason to let him in, but he obviously had a hidden agenda. You have no reason to be loyal to this guy. Tell the wife about her brother's visit, and explain you thought about the situation carefully after you went home and realized that if you were in her position, you would want to know.

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

Photo credit: annca at Pixabay

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