DR. WALLACE: I will be a senior this fall and will also turn 18 years old. I'm excited to finally become a legal adult and to be able to make my own decisions without parental permission.
My legal first name is so awful that I won't even tell it to you! But what I will say is that I want to change it immediately upon turning 18. I want to change it to a more common name before I start college.
My grandmother is very upset that I am not thrilled to be named after her. My mother even admitted that she made a mistake in allowing her mother to pressure her into naming me. All of my friends call me by my preferred nickname rather than the old-time albatross of a name I was given. Even many of my family members now use my nickname when addressing me. I'm sure my grandmother will read your column, and I am excited but nervous to see what your response will be to my situation. — Teen Girl With a Really Outdated Name, via email
TEEN GIRL: Indeed, I would likely do the same thing you are doing if I were in your situation. Why suffer throughout your life with a name you despise? In fact, many experts point out that it can actually be unhealthy and professionally unwise not to change a dreaded name legally.
Many actors, musicians, artists and others in the entertainment industry regularly change their names for professional reasons, usually to advance their career via easier name recognition. Part of an adolescent's journey in life includes searching for a particular identity. Changing a name legally is not uncommon these days, so I see no reason for you to hesitate when you feel as passionate about this issue as you obviously do.
Teenage girls play with their first names more than boys do. Why? Women traditionally take their husbands' last names when they marry; therefore, their first name means even more to women than it usually does to the average man.
SISTER'S RELATIONSHIP IS WORRYING
DR. WALLACE: My older sister is 17, and her boyfriend is the same age, almost down to the very day! They are literally only three days away from being the exact same age. They have been dating for almost a year. They met at school, when they sat next to each other in one of their classes. It had seemed, at first, that they were made for each other, but now I'm not so sure.
My sister complains a lot about her boyfriend lately. They argue and have a lot of disagreements about almost everything, even petty and trivial things. I don't get it! They don't appear happy at all anymore, so I'm wondering why they are still together as a couple. It's often painful to watch them speak to each other. I usually wince when I see them together since neither one appears to look happy. They sometimes look like prisoners! Any suggestions on how I can get them to calm down and be nicer to each other? I'm proud of my sister, and I kind of like her guy because he's always really nice to me, but their act has gotten really old. — Sister Who Cares, via email
SISTER WHO CARES: If the relationship has more happy days than sad, the relationship is normal. But if your sister is more often sad, and they argue every day, that is definitely not normal. Ask your sister if she is feeling unhappy more days than she is feeling happy. Don't go into any details; just ask the broad question, and then listen carefully to her answer.
Your sister will likely take a few moments to reflect on her situation in order to decide if she is happy or not. No matter which way she answers this initial question, ask her the follow-up question: Why?
Her explanation will provide you insight into her mindset and perspective.
She may provide you a few clues, which will indicate what she focuses on most these days in her relationship. If she's melancholy yet hopeful, ask her what drew her to her guy in the first place when they first met. Suggest that she approach him (and that he does the same) as if they are meeting each other anew. Strangers who just meet are usually on their best behavior and definitely don't interrupt each other to argue!
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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