DR. WALLACE: I have a most unusual problem, and I desperately need your help. My brother is a good football player. Earlier this school year, he and a guy from another school got into a fight during a game and both guys were kicked out. It was the second time my brother had been kicked out of a game this year, so the principal suspended him from the team for the remainder of the season.
Since my brother is in the 12th grade, it meant the end of his high school football career and that he probably won't get any kind of college athletic scholarship now. My parents, especially my dad, and my brother are livid about him being kicked off the team. They thought about getting an attorney to sue the principal and the school district but decided not to after they all had a conference with the coach.
Now comes that unusual problem. The guy who got into the fight with my brother is a guy I've been dating. He attends a high school across town. We met at a party about a year ago and have been dating on and off ever since then. My brother blames my boyfriend for the fight because he said my boyfriend intentionally hit him during the game. However, my guy said he did hit my brother late on one play but that it was an accident. He has tried to apologize to my brother, but my brother won't talk to him.
I'm still dating my boyfriend from this other school and now, my entire family is ticked off with me. My dad called me "Brutus," and my brother said I was a traitor.
Dr. Wallace, I'm being blamed for something I had nothing to do with. I was dating this young man before the fight, so why shouldn't I date him after it? After all, he is not a criminal. What should I do — continue seeing my guy from this other school or bow to family pressure and stop seeing him? The weird thing is that this guy is very calm and steady during our personal time together. He is a really nice guy off the football field. Now what? — Caught in between, Plano, Texas
CAUGHT IN BETWEEN: This is definitely an unusual problem, and I can sympathize with the pressure you're under. If your relationship with this young man is casual, with no chance of turning serious, it might be better (for the sake of the family harmony) to discontinue seeing him.
But if it's anything more than that and he has treated you with respect and honor, then by all means, keep on going out with him! I sense from your letter that your situation may likely be the latter and if it is, I say go ahead. Just be prepared to deal with your family making things difficult for you — at least for a while. But remember that time heals most wounds, even emotional ones like what you are describing here.
YOU DESERVE A 96-HOUR WAIVER
DR. WALLACE: I'm going to be turning 16 years old soon, and I have met a really nice guy. My parents have met him, and they like and approve of him too, but I'm not allowed to go out with him until I am 16. I agreed with the "16-year-old rule" a long time ago, when my parents and I discussed dating and when I would be allowed to start.
So now this nice young man has invited me to attend a 25th wedding anniversary party for his parents. The party is scheduled just four days before I turn 16. Ouch! My parents are very strict and tell me that "rules are rules," so they do not think I should be allowed to go to this event with my friend.
Since my parents often read your column, I told them I would write to you. They said they would strongly consider the logic of your answer, either way, in making their final decision. I can also add that I am an honor student, and I have never been in any serious trouble at all while growing up thus far. Do you think my request is reasonable? — Soon to be 16, via email
SOON TO BE: I seriously doubt that you will be less responsible four days before you turn 16 than on your actual birthday. Furthermore, I would posit that honor students have earned a little latitude, which can be metered out from time to time — and in my opinion, this is one of those times. I agree that you should be allowed to attend this celebration as your first date, as a bonus for your academic achievements and your behavior over the years leading up to you turning 16.
However, should your parents agree with me and allow you to go, it is a privilege to be allowed permission to break a rule — no matter how minor — so be sure to properly thank your parents and continue your personal conduct such that you earn and maintain their trust. Be quite punctual when it comes to curfew! Also, communicate relevant details of future dates to your parents as appropriate for their necessary oversight of your social life at this age.
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.