DR. WALLACE: I'm having problems with one of my good friends, and I would like your advice. Over the past two years, my friend and I have become very close. Recently, I have noticed some drastic changes in her attitude. She used to be one of the sweetest people on earth. She was friendly, outgoing and quite involved in school activities. She had a sunny personality and always had nice things to say about her fellow students.
Lately, she has become self-centered, almost to the point of being rude. Instead of being positive, she's becoming quite negative. This could be because she is starting to get in with the wrong crowd. To compound the issue, I've been having problems communicating with her lately. How should I confront her about her changing attitude? I don't want to lose her as a friend, but I'm not sure how to approach her given her changes. — Worried Friend, via email
WORRIED FRIEND: Stop by your friend's house when you know she will be home. Tell her that you have noticed a negative change in her personality and, since you care so much for her, you're wondering if she has a problem that she would like to discuss with you. Tell her that you, of course, respect her privacy if it's related to something you are not aware of. Do make her aware that it has been difficult to communicate with her lately. Let her know that her friendship is very important and you will always be available if she needs your shoulder to lean on.
Then, listen very closely to what your friend tells you. After this talk, you will know if your friend intends to follow the wrong crowd or not, and you'll likely know where you stand with her and how important your friendship is to her. If she responds negatively, respect this, move on and seek to find other good friends who share your lifestyle.
'TEACHER RETALIATION' IS NOT AN OPTION
DR. WALLACE: I have been reading your column for many years and enjoy it very much. I'd like to ask your advice about a school-related matter. Our teenage son attends a local public high school, where many students are placed in honors classes due to their high achievements in junior high school. This year, our son was in an honors chemistry class. The class has an enrollment of 32 highly intelligent students.
At the beginning of the semester, the teacher gave every student a D or an F on the first quiz and explained that "they will have to work hard to lift their grades" over the course of the class. He also told the class he wants some of the students to drop out because the class is too crowded. His goal is to have half of the students drop the class. So far, six have done that.
I wanted to discuss the situation with the teacher or the principal, but my wife and son disagree with me because they're afraid of retaliation if my son has this same teacher again next year. Being new to this country, and not being familiar with the educational system, I'm asking for your opinion. — New American Father, via email
NEW AMERICAN FATHER: First of all, congratulations on coming to America and for being so involved in your son's education. It is imperative that you and your wife make an appointment with the teacher to discuss your son's progress in this class. If you are not satisfied with his evaluation, make an appointment with the principal. If what you are saying is accurate, the principal should require the teacher to reevaluate his teaching methods.
Trust me when I tell you that retaliation is not an option available to any teacher! Teachers have the primary responsibility to do their best to educate our children. Most teachers fulfill that responsibility admirably. A few need an occasional reminder of why they became teachers. Call for an appointment immediately, and I trust you will find this process relatively welcoming. Of course, I suggest that you be calm, earnest and respectful during the duration of the meeting. Having read your letter carefully, I trust that you are well equipped to do just that. Good luck, and feel free to write again if anything notable happens.
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.
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