DR. WALLACE: I'm a 13-year-old girl and I have four older siblings and a sister who is a year younger. My older siblings and I get along fine, but my younger sister and I are constantly at odds, and she bugs me whenever we are together. I love all my siblings, including her, but lately I can't stand to be around her. I love my little sister and I want to be friends with her, but it seems I just can't get along with her. Do you have any ideas for me? — Madison, Reno, Nev.
MADISON: You can't control how your sister acts toward you, but you can control how you act toward your sister. Most times when a person shows kindness and respect, those qualities are returned. Give it a try. Be especially nice to your sister. Bend over backward to be kind and friendly. This may cause your sister to wonder whether you're ill, but when she gets over her shock, she'll be delighted with the new you. What else can she do but be nice in return?
HE'S NOT WORTH KEEPING
DR. WALLACE: I've been dating this guy for over two years, and for the past year we seem to be arguing about almost everything. In fact, he has even told me he doesn't like being in a relationship because relationships make him be responsible and he doesn't like to be responsible for anything.
Do you think there is anything that I can do to make this thing work? — Nameless, Lake Charles, La.
NAMELESS: He has told you he's not happy with having to be responsible, and any guy who shuns responsibility is not worth keeping. Tell this guy to hit the road and keep on traveling!
INTERFAITH MARRIAGES CAN WORK
DR. WALLACE: I'm 19, and my boyfriend is 20, and we seriously love each other. However, we have one problem. I'm Jewish, and he's Catholic. We are considering getting married when we finish college. He will graduate in two years and I will graduate in three. My parents are upset that my boyfriend is "outside the faith," and his parents are also alarmed.
We know it will not be easy to continue practicing our religions as before, but we will do so at least until I become pregnant. At that time one of us will change for the sake of our child.
We both have read your column for quite some time and we value your opinions and advice. We would like to hear your input regarding our situation. — Nameless, West Palm Beach, Fla.
NAMELESS: Interfaith marriages can work when they contain not only a great deal of love, but also tolerance, flexibility and respect for the other person's beliefs. For starters, you need to think this matter through more thoroughly. To merely say, "One of us will change" when you become pregnant is dangerously vague.
Are you prepared to convert to Catholicism? Is your boyfriend prepared to convert to Judaism? What are the natures of your respective faiths? Do both of you attend services regularly and is doing so a deep and crucial part of your lives?
You and your boyfriend should meet together with your rabbi and his priest. Get their input on interfaith marriages. Perhaps one of them could put you in touch with a couple with the same religious backgrounds as you and your boyfriend, and who have a successful, happy marriage. The more you talk about all this with caring, knowledgeable people, the more likely you are to make the right decision.
One last recommendation: Each of you should pray for guidance. Some answers are to be found only in reverent solitude.
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.