There Was a More Diplomatic Way

By Dr. Robert Wallace

August 2, 2019 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: I'm mad as heck, and I might find a lawyer to sue my physical education teacher. We had an agility test, and I didn't do so well. In fact, I found it difficult and humiliating. We had to run 25 yards, jump over a bar, do 10 sit-ups and do one pull-up. I ran 20 yards but fell down and didn't run the final 5 yards. I also couldn't do any sit-ups or one pull-up.

The next day, my teacher called my mom and told her that I didn't try on the agility test. She also told her I was obese and should lose some weight.

Wait a little minute! This is my body, and I like it just the way it is. How dare my teacher call me obese! That is not a nice thing to call another human being. She was making fun of me.

Should I get a lawyer, or should I try to have her fired by going to my principal, who happens to be a female? Please answer my letter. — Anonymous, Denver

ANONYMOUS: Your teacher was out of line to say or infer that you did not try to complete the agility test. The teacher was not very tactful in informing your mother that it would be better for your health if you could lose some of your excess weight. It is true that people who are significantly overweight have three times the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Obesity can also increase the risk of heart disease and cancer of the colon, rectum, gallbladder, cervix and ovaries.

You own your body, that's true. However, it might benefit your overall health to have a talk with your parents to see if they can encourage you to lose some weight. Even though you now enjoy your body, you might discover that you will enjoy it even more if you lose some weight.

I would not recommend getting a lawyer for this matter. If you wish to pursue things further, speak to a school counselor or even the school principal. Explain how you felt when you heard the word "obese." Depending on your height and weight, you may indeed be obese — remember, this is a clinical term — but there would have been more tactful ways for your teacher to communicate this to you and your family.


DR. WALLACE: I am a 19-year-old girl who lives at home with my parents and three younger brothers, ages 9, 11 and 15. My parents and I work full time, and my brothers attend school. I am home first in the evening, so I must make the family dinner and clean up the house. After dinner, I wash and dry the dishes and take out the garbage because my brothers are doing homework; their chores are to keep the yard nice on weekends. On weekends, I also do the laundry and grocery shopping.

I'm not a normal daughter to my parents or sister to my younger brothers. I'm nothing but a nonpaid worker who keeps this household running. What can I do to solve this dilemma? I need your advice. — Maid to Work at Home, Detroit

MAID: When living at home, a son or daughter should be expected to do a proportionate share of household chores, but your role is indeed more like that of a live-in maid or housekeeper.

Discuss your concerns with your father and mother and see if things can be worked out to where you wind up doing a fair share — not the bulk — of the household chores.

You always have the option to move out of the house, if you can financially afford it. This may or may not be an option for you today, but at some point in your life, you will indeed leave the family home and strike out on your own in this world.

It might be that your family could afford a part-time assistant around the house. Tell your parents you will be willing to do half of the massive workload you're handling now if they can get you some help to pick up the slack on the second half. You can even tell them that you will take it upon yourself to find a reputable housekeeping agency in your area from which you can hire the much-needed part-time help.

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

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