DR. WALLACE: I've been staying at a friend's house for two days because my parents and I had a big argument. I called them last night to let them know I'm doing well, but I didn't say where I was. My dad said if I didn't come home immediately, he would call the authorities and say I am a "runaway." I'm not a runaway, am I? I'm 15 years old now, soon to turn 16 in a few weeks. — Anonymous, Riverside, California
ANONYMOUS: The definition of a runaway is someone who is away from home for at least one night without parental or caretaker permission, so that does include you.
Call your parents again and tell them you are coming home to work out all the problems. Hopefully, they will be happy to see you and your return will inspire your parents to reassess the situation.
If there is a continuing problem or if you feel your safety is threatened in any way, you should contact a trusted adult family member, adult family friend or an authority figure. This includes clergy, school counselors and even law enforcement, if necessary.
Avoiding your parents on an ongoing basis is not the solution. You eventually need to face them — the sooner the better.
R-RATED DAUGHTER GROUNDED
DR. WALLACE: I'm the mother of a 15-year-old girl, and I'm mad as heck. My daughter and her 16-year-old boyfriend went to an R-rated movie. I found out when I overheard them discussing the movie. I called the theater to complain and was told they do not ask for identification because an adult could purchase tickets and give them to underage teens.
I followed up by calling the police and even contacted the local newspaper to vent my anger. They all told me it was up to the parents to make sure their children do not see films intended for mature audiences.
My daughter is now grounded for a month and not allowed to go out with this boy anymore, but that still doesn't eliminate the problem going forward. If any child can attend an R-rated movie, why do the ratings even exist? — Mad Mother, Detroit
MAD MOTHER: Parental vigilance does not seem to be the only barrier between underage teens and R-rated movies. Your daughter is far from the only one who has managed to get into such a movie.
The reason is the pursuit of profits. Theaters want to sell tickets, and an underage teen with money is just as good as an adult with money to the business collecting the revenue.
I don't blame you for being upset, but I'd caution you that anger and punishment alone will not necessarily stop the problem. These actions could even have the reverse effect by heightening the allure such movies have, turning them into forbidden fruit. Keep the communication channels open with your daughter in a calm and understanding way. Your values will be transmitted to her far more effectively with love and logic than with anger and reactive punishment.
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.
Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay