DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and, if I must say so myself, a pretty good kid. I'm on the honor roll at school. I teach Sunday school at my church. And I've never experimented with the no-nos — drugs, alcohol and premarital sex. I've got a boyfriend whom with my parents approve of, and I have an open, wonderful relationship with my parents. Oh, yes, I'm also vice president of my sophomore class and a junior varsity cheerleader.
Because I'm a very active teen, I need a certain amount of money to survive and participate in activities with others after school. I'd like to get a part-time job to earn some extra cash, but my parents won't let me. They believe that all of my spare time should be directed toward my studies. My problem is that I need $40 per week for what I consider to be my necessities — food (snacks), my school yearbook, movie tickets, etc. My parents do buy all of my clothes and give me $2 a day for my lunch, but they only give me an allowance of $10 a week. That really puts a crimp in my lifestyle. What can I do to get them to raise my allowance to $40 per week? — Good Kid, Springfield, Mass.
GOOD KID: Asking for a raise is always delicate, no matter who you are and how old you are, so this is a good life lesson for someone your age. You didn't mention whether you have a list of chores that you do each week to earn the $10 that you receive now. Perhaps you do have some. I suggest that you offer to do extra chores around the house or yard so that you can earn the "extra pay" at home rather than seek a job outside the house. Furthermore, tell your parents that you will only work on the extra chores after you have completed your studies. This way, one of their potential objections will be neutralized. Be ready to compromise. You may be able to get your allowance raised to $25 or even $30 a week, which is pretty good. Finally, no matter what allowance you receive, do your best to budget your funds and only spend when truly necessary. I believe you will be able to stretch your dollars a bit further and still enjoy some social fun with your friends.
I MADE A BIG MISTAKE
DR. WALLACE: My message is for all teen girls reading this column to just say "no, thanks" when pressured by a guy to have sex.
When I was 16, all my girlfriends were sexually active with their boyfriends. Me? I was the lone virgin in my circle of friends. Soon they were encouraging me to have sex so I could share in the interesting group discussions about sex that were always going on.
I thought that I was ready and that I was in love with "Matt," so one night I said yes. Well, I found out that Matt didn't really love me, and soon he was calling on me only when he wanted sex. Not only that but he told his friends I was an easy mark, and I guess I was. I indeed had sex with many of his friends. I honestly believed that each guy really liked me and that having sex was a way of showing true affection. How wrong I was! In hindsight, it is now so clear, but back then, I was oblivious to what was really going on.
No, I didn't get pregnant, and no, I didn't catch a disease (the boys always used condoms because I insisted), but as a young woman, I feel I was used and abused sexually. The emotional scars of my sexual awakening will sadly be with me forever.
I made a big mistake by having sex too early in life, especially because I had sex for the wrong reasons. First, I thought that everyone was doing it, but in reality, not everyone was. Next, I thought I was physically and emotionally ready, but I absolutely was not.
Girls, I plead with you not to become sexually active just because you want to know what sex is all about or because you feel you are missing out on something special. Believe me, you're not. The time will come when you are truly in love and mature enough to enter into a relationship that gets physical at the right time for the right reasons. I hope it will be after you say "I do" to your husband. — Been There, Done That
BEEN THERE: Thank you for openly sharing your mistakes with our teen girl readers so that these mistakes might not happen to them. Your message is obviously heartfelt and is very much appreciated!
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.