DR. WALLACE: I take exception to the advice you gave the 19-year-old girl whose fiance gave her three weeks to stop smoking or he leaves her. Your advice seemed a bit zealous when you told her she'd be choosing smoking over her relationship if she didn't meet his demand, but in your haste to condemn smoking, you seemed insensitive to the fact that it may take her longer than three weeks to quit. Smoking is very, very addictive and can be a hard habit to kick. It may well take her longer than three weeks to be truly smoke-free. Also, in the inverse of the situation, the fiance has chosen his aversion to a bad habit over his love for his future wife, and this seems just as shallow. If they do really care for each other, they should be able to find common ground on this issue to save their relationship. Demanding a pack-a-day smoker to quit in three weeks or face abandonment seems a little harsh and maybe even unrealistic. — Skeptical, via email
SKEPTICAL: I like your response to the young fiance problem better than my initial response. I hope she and her fiance stay together and read your advice so they will take yours over what I first offered up. Now, after taking your advice into consideration (thanks for your insightful input), I'll modify my reply to say they should compromise and work together as long as this young lady is sincere about kicking the habit — which indeed will take time! The young man should support her efforts and remove his "abandonment deadline" position. Both of them stand to cooperatively benefit in the short run and the long run.
GIVE MOM YOUR PAINTING
DR. WALLACE: I'm 12 years old, and every year at Christmas, I make a gift for my mother. She always acts excited and happy about it. This year, I painted her a picture of our cat, and I must say it turned out pretty well. I thought it was my best handmade gift yet, and I just knew Mom was going to like it.
But all this came crashing down on me when my mom told me I was old enough to buy her a Christmas present this year and to "lay off" the handcrafted gifts. This really shocked me, because I thought she was happy to get my self-made gift and happy I was saving money for college expenses. Now I'm confused and don't know what to do. Help! — Anonymous Artist, via email
ANONYMOUS ARTIST: Give mom the painting! I'm positive she'll be excited to get it and will display it in an appropriate placing your house.
I don't think she was completely serious about her comments, and I'm sure she understands that the worth of a Christmas present isn't determined by the numbers on the sales receipt, but by the love behind the gift. If for some reason she has forgotten this, maybe the whole family should sit down and read O. Henry's famous "The gift of the Magi" together! It's an old book, but the message it contains is timeless.
YOU ARE A RICH YOUNG LADY
DR. WALLACE: I'm responding to a girl age 14 who complains because her allowance is only $10 per week. I only can wish I was that fortunate! My dad is unemployed and has been for over a year. My mom babysits to bring money into the house. My younger sister is 12, and I'm 14. We help all we can around the house. My dad has a garden and grows a lot of vegetables, which we eat. My grandmother cans all the extra vegetables. Yet we are a very happy family filled with lots of love. Somehow, I feel I'm richer than the girl who needs more than $10 a week to survive. — Grateful for Family, Poteau, Oklahoma
GRATEFUL: I, too, think that you're richer — and probably will be your entire life.
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.