Work on One Freedom at a Time

By Dr. Robert Wallace

October 7, 2016 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: I've got a set of overprotective parents, and I don't know what to do about them. I'm 12, but my parents treat me like I'm 5 years old. First of all, I've got to be in bed at 9:30 p.m. on school nights and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. I'm only allowed 10 minutes per phone call and I'm only allowed two calls per night. If two friends call me, then I can't call anyone. I'm not allowed to send or receive text messages, or e-mails either.

I'm allowed to watch an hour and a half of television nightly, but only if all of my homework and chores are completed satisfactorily. And, of course, dating is out of the question, even though a couple of my girlfriends have boyfriends.

I love my parents and I know they love me, but their rules and regulations are kind of strict. I've tried to get them to see things more my way, but they just smile and say, "Your day will come."

Right now, I'm just getting tired of waiting. I really would like to have a bit more freedom, although my parents do allow me to stay up a bit later on really special occasions. — Nameless, St. Paul, Minn.

NAMELESS: I'd like to agree with you, but I can't. Your parents have set rules that seem fair and very acceptable. Since your parents allow you to stay up a little later for special occasions, then you really shouldn't complain. I realize that at times it's difficult being teen, but it's also difficult being a good parent.

Instead of trying to get mom and dad to give in to all of your "freedoms," why not work on just one "freedom" at a time and be willing to compromise if they offer an alternative.

THIS IS 2016, NOT 1916

DR. WALLACE: When a couple wants to live together to see if they are compatible before they get married, why do you always tell them not to do it?

This, dear Doctor, is 2016, not 1916, and it's no big deal for a couple to live together and not be married to each other. There are a lot of advantages, including saving money on federal taxes by living together without saying, "I do." The biggest advantage is for the couple to decide if they are compatible. If not, they can split without going through a costly, nasty, legal divorce.

A person wouldn't buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first. How about purchasing a car? Only a fool would buy one without first driving it. Why then, shouldn't a couple live together before agreeing to the "until death do us part" commitment? I'm sure you generally base your advice on good old common sense. Wouldn't a couple living together make sense? It would avoid a lot of divorces.

Of course, I suppose the only people who could oppose this type of living arrangement would be divorce attorneys because they wouldn't be earning much easy cash from handling divorces.

Your comments, please. — Romeo, Las Vegas, Nev.

ROMEO: It's true that married couples don't get the same tax advantage as a couple living together, but who are not married.

Yes, I try on shoes and test-drive a vehicle before considering the purchase, but I don't see buying a pair of shoes and getting married as a valid comparison.

In reality, living together without being married could cause the couple to divorce when they do marry. According to a study of divorced couples conducted by the University of Nebraska, Department of Psychology, 48 percent of all married couples will divorce.

But when couples lived together before marrying, the divorce rate rose a full 10 percent to 58 percent. The reason is that the "live together" couple had a difficult time adjusting to the total commitment of the wedding vows after having certain freedoms during the "live together" arrangement.

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. E-mail 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

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