DR. WALLACE: I'm 13 and my parents give me an allowance of $7 a week. Well, they might as well not give me any money. Of the $7, I must put $5 in the bank, and then I must turn in a paper each Saturday at noon listing how I spent every penny of the $2 that I'm allowed to spend. Maybe when they were young they could buy a few things for $2 and still have a little left, but I couldn't even buy myself a hamburger unless it was at a special price.
Please think about this, too. If I want to buy something for $10, I have to wait over a month to buy it, and during this time I can't spend one penny. When I ask why I can't spend more than $2 a week, I'm told that I'm learning the value of money. Well, Dr. Wallace, as you can see, I'm not learning very much. Help! — Bernard, Santa Fe, N.M.
BERNARD: I'm all in favor of allowances. If supervised properly by parents, the child learns how to budget, save and spend wisely. Your parents are a bit rigid with the way they want your allowance used, but they may have a learning plan that I'm not familiar with.
Is it possible to earn a little money by volunteering to do extra jobs around the house? If the answer is yes, make sure you can earn enough to add a glass of milk when you buy that hamburger on special. But remember, many teens are not fortunate enough to receive an allowance of any kind.
INCREASED SECURITY IS A BETTER ANSWER
DR. WALLACE: School is almost out for Christmas break and my friends and I had plans to spend some free time touring our local mall. All that has changed because the mall has made a new rule that requires teens to be accompanied by an adult, or they can't enter the mall. During the summer, a few gang-bangers caused a huge disturbance, and even the police had a difficult time restoring the peace. The stores in the mall complex voted to ban unchaperoned teens from shopping.
I think this is a stupid rule. Why punish many for the sins of a few? Aren't the storeowners aware that teens have a lot of purchasing power? Six of my friends and I wrote protest letters to the mall manager, but we didn't receive a reply. This is just another example of teens being harassed for no other reason except that they are not yet 18. Hassling teens is a good way to cause us to become militant! — Jennifer, New York, N.Y.
JENNIFER: Mall cruising has become a favorite teen pastime and, as you mention, most teens who visit malls behave themselves. I understand the storeowners' concern: Customers want to shop in safety and will stay away if disturbances are common. Most laws that affect the many are enacted because of the irresponsible behavior of a few.
I'm not in favor of banning unchaperoned teens from the mall. Increased security is a better answer. This extra expense can be paid out of the increased revenue the teens would bring in.
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 www.creators.com.