DR. WALLACE: I'm 16, and so is my closest friend. We have been friends ever since we were in the first grade together. My mother and father are excellent parents. They don't let me do everything I want to do, but they do give me the freedom to make most of my own decisions. Her parents, on the other hand, are very strict. They don't allow her to date or have a boyfriend. She is a beautiful girl, but they don't allow her to wear clothes that are in style now. This includes tight jeans, low-rise jeans or low-cut shirts.
She and her boyfriend are a "couple" at school, but he is kept secret from her parents and her home life. He is active in school activities (politics, athletics, drama), while she does nothing. But she attracts lots of other guys because she is beautiful.
Her parents allow her to come to my house once in a while on a Friday or Saturday night. This is when she and I go to a movie (that is approved by her parents) or to a school function. Now comes the sticky problem. My parents take her and me to all movies and activities in our family's car. But when we go to a movie or function, she notifies her boyfriend. When he shows up, they take off in his car and are gone for a little over an hour. She always returns before the function ends. So far, she has never been late — thank goodness — so it has yet to become a huge problem. My parents have not yet noticed that she takes off.
The thing that bothers my conscience is that her parents like and trust me, and when she takes off with her guy behind their backs, I feel somewhat responsible. What do you think? Am I worrying too much about something that is really none of my business? — Anonymous Friend, Brooklyn, New York
FRIEND: This is indeed a sticky situation. She is using you to get around her parents' strict rules, implicating you in the deception. All you get is a guilty conscience and the chance to go to the movies alone while she and her boyfriend have their surreptitious date.
I know you're simply trying to help your friend have a normal social life, but this is not acceptable. You and your friend need to talk. She needs to understand that she must find a different way to get together with her boyfriend. Let her know the weekend "phantom" movie get-togethers have ended on your watch. Let her know you greatly value her friendship but that you wish to keep your conscience clear. Let her know that your own parents are now also involved unwittingly in this deception, as you are keeping this situation from them. Explain that ending this deception is also best for her in the long run. Hopefully she will understand — especially if she is your true friend.
POPULAR BUT MOVING
DR. WALLACE: I'll be attending a new high school in a different state soon. I'm really concerned that it will take me a long time before the kids at the new school accept me. I'm pretty popular at my current high school, and I want that popularity to continue when I attend my new high school. How should I handle this situation? — In Transition, Troy, Michigan
IN TRANSITION: Since you're popular now, chances are high that you will also be popular at your new school just by doing what comes naturally.
Here are a few additional tips: Have a radiant smile and display it regularly. Be a good listener. When you speak, say nice things about your new classmates. Get involved in school activities early in the new semester. Join clubs that seem interesting. Attend as many football games, basketball games, school dances and plays as possible.
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.