DR. WALLACE: I'm the grandmother of 16 wonderful grandchildren, and I have been married to their grandfather for 57 years. I always read your column and share nearly all of your messages with my grandchildren. Let's just say that you and I see eye to eye on issues involving young people over 95% of the time. Since no two people see everything 100% the same way, I feel we are pretty well aligned. Thank you for encouraging young people not to mess up their lives with alcohol, tobacco or drugs. I've never heard a person say, "I wish I would have started smoking, drinking or taking drugs earlier in life," but I've heard many say they wish they had never started smoking, drinking or taking drugs, including my brother, who is a smoker and contracted lung cancer at the age of 51.
Teens have the right to be discouraged when they are not being given credit where and when their credit is due. The good they do is buried in the back of the newspaper or online stories, if it even makes the news at all, but wow, when they do something wrong, is often front-page news. Dr. Wallace, keep up your good work, and keep encouraging our wonderful young people, especially all of the teenagers we have in this great country. I pray our teens will listen to your wise advice and that they will use their skills, talents and innate wisdom to live happy, productive lives. — Cheerleader Grandmother, Erath County, Texas
CHEERLEADER GRANDMOTHER: Thank you for your kind words, and I also greatly appreciate your loyal readership. It's true that, at times, teens do get a bad rap just because they are teens, but on the whole, today's teens are absolutely determined to make our world a better place. It's impressive to witness. They are wonderful!
It is also interesting to note that a greater and greater percentage of teens help their communities through volunteer work these days than ever before. Today's teens use social media and the power of readily available information to seek out changes they feel will benefit humanity over the next several centuries. I, like you, enjoy cheering them on.
ACCEPT THIS INVITATION
DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and live with my grandmother, who has been my guardian since the day I was born. My mother was 16 and not married when I was born. My grandmother is just like a mother to me, and I love her very much. She is also a very good person and does everything she can for me to have a good education.
My problem is that my grandmother and my mother are not speaking to each other. In fact, they hardly ever have during my lifetime. I only see my mother once or twice a year at most. My grandmother does not approve of my mom's lifestyle, maybe because she has a lot of live-in boyfriends. Then, about a month ago, my mother actually got married for the first time. My grandmother and I did not attend the ceremony because we were not invited.
My mother called a couple of days ago and told me she wants to take me out to dinner to meet my stepfather. She says she loves him and finally has her life in order and that now she wants me to be a part of her "new life." I asked my grandmother if I should go, and she said it was completely up to me. I'd also like to have your opinion, please. Given the background I've described, what do you think is my best course of action? — Estranged Daughter, via email
ESTRANGED DAUGHTER: I don't think there's anything to be gained by perpetuating your estrangement from your mother. I feel it would be good for you to accept the invitation, meet your new stepfather and determine for yourself if you feel your mom is indeed sincere about her "new life." If she is truly sincere about changing her lifestyle, she will apologize profusely and not try to coerce you to live with her instead of your grandmother.
The best thing that could happen out of this situation would be reconciliation between all three parties: your mother and your grandmother and you. Take your time, and see how things go, but do stay with your grandmother for the remainder of this school year. It will be summertime in a few more months, and only then should you seriously consider living with your mother — but only if the next few months go very well and you see sincere changes from your mother.
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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