DR. WALLACE: My best friend is 17 and very pregnant. She and her boyfriend were planning to get married, but he was killed in an automobile accident five months ago. The baby is due in about a month. Last week, I got a call from my friend's cousin inviting me to a baby shower for her. I said that I will be there.
When I told my mom, she said she has never heard of a baby shower for an unwed mother. She added that she wouldn't stop me from going but would hope that I wouldn't attend. She said that those attending will be honoring someone who committed a huge sin. I'm going to attend, but I would like to hear what you think about all this. My mom reads your column even more than I do, so I'm hoping that you will agree with me. — Rosa, El Paso, Texas
ROSA: I agree that you should attend the baby shower. The spotlight will be on the baby, who is pure and sinless. Good friends should be together to share important moments, and these friendships should last a lifetime. Your best friend deserves to have you there.
MANY ASIAN STUDENTS ARE ACADEMIC STARS
DR. WALLACE: I graduated with honors from high school in Southern California and was happy to receive a partial scholarship to the University of California, Irvine. That allows me to live at home, but I can still obtain a top-quality education. I enjoy UC Irvine, and the competition for grades has really made me a better student.
But I do have one question you might be able to clarify for me. Over half the students at UCI are Asian. Is it possible that Asians have higher IQs than other races? This is no big deal, but it appears they may. — Student, Irvine, Calif.
STUDENT: It is true that many Asian-American students are stars in the nation's classrooms, but the reason is family support and pressure, plus, of course, good old-fashioned hard work, not higher IQ.
And there is a cost to their success, just as there is in any high-achieving family, regardless of ethnicity. Asian-American students often suffer from anxiety about failing to meet parental expectations and are sometimes subjected to stereotyping and prejudicial treatment by envious peers.
The heavy emphasis on education in these homes begins at birth. Schoolwork is so important in many Asian-American families that children aren't allowed to have part-time jobs or do household chores. Some Asian teens are not allowed to date, and many are not permitted to participate in after-school activities such as athletics and music.
In many Asian societies, academic success brings honor and respect to the students' families. But sometimes the parental pressure to achieve this can be overwhelming, and guilt can result when students fall short of parental expectations. Asian students who have average academic ability may feel pressure to perform beyond their capabilities, and when they do not succeed, their self-esteem is crushed. As with most things in life, balance is the key. Family support to encourage good study habits is fantastic, as long as it does not go overboard. Good old-fashioned hard work accounts for the bulk of the excellent grades you notice your fellow students achieving.
YOUR PARENTS WANT WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU
DR. WALLACE: I am 15 and have a younger brother and sister. Recently, I moved in with my father (my parents are divorced) because my mom and I weren't getting along. I love my mom very much, and she wants me to move back home with her, but I like living with my father. Please give me your advice. — Anonymous, Orlando, Fla.
ANONYMOUS: Both your mom and your dad want what's best for you. See whether you can arrange for your mom, your dad and you to meet at her house and together decide what is in your best interest.
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.