DR. WALLACE: My 14-year-old daughter says "I wish I were dead" whenever we get into an argument. I don't take her comments seriously because I know she's just trying to make me feel bad.
My husband thinks we should get psychiatric counseling, but I think it would be expensive and a waste of time. What do you think? Our daughter has many material things. We are not super rich, but money is not a family concern. — Mom, Chicago
MOM: When a teen says "I wish I were dead," the teen most often is saying she wants to live, but is extremely frustrated and unhappy.
But all suicide threats must be taken seriously. I agree with your husband that psychiatric help may be in order. Some factors pushing teens toward suicide are family conflicts, peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse, a lack of academic success, inability to reach goals and the death of a loved one or close friend.
Consider these possibilities and monitor her moods (when you are not arguing) to see if she seems depressed or has made changes regarding her regular routines. If the arguments you have with your daughter ceased, she'd probably stop her suicide threats. But if you discover anything alarming, counseling may be in order.
Suicide claims young people from all socioeconomic levels, from the very rich to the very poor.
I'M NAMED AFTER A DOG
DR. WALLACE: I'm 12 years old, and my name is Daisy. I like my name because it is sort of unusual and unique. No girl at my school has the same name, and I like that. But I do have a problem. My parents had a dog named Daisy, and they loved her very much. Two days before I was born, Daisy got hit by a car and was killed. My parents were sad at losing Daisy, but were thrilled to have a daughter. Mom and Dad had been married for eight years before I came along. Because of their love for Daisy, they decided to name me Daisy, and I'm glad that they gave me that name. But what I don't like is Mom telling people who compliment me on my name that I was named after their dog.
My mom continues to tell people this, even after I've asked her many times not to. She thinks I should be proud to be named after a "faithful, loyal and loving pet." I don't quite see it that way. My parents also read your column, and we all agreed that I would present the "problem" for you to solve. — Daisy, San Antonio, Texas
DAISY: I agree with you completely. It's fine that you were named after a wonderful family pet, and it's great that you like the name, but your parents should restrain themselves when they talk about it. The fact that this is embarrassing for you (as it would be for almost anyone) is sufficient reason. Thank goodness the dog wasn't named Fido or Spot!
MOM IS MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE
DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and dating a guy who is 17 and goes to my high school. We are of the same religion, race and ethnic background. He is a good student and a real nice guy. When I brought him home the first time to meet my mother, I thought she liked him. But the next day, she told me she didn't like him and preferred that I not go out with him anymore.
I've been dating this guy for about a month now, and we really have good times when we're together. Still, my mother says, "I don't like that guy." When I ask her why she feels that way, she won't answer. Don't you think my mother should tell me why she doesn't like this boy? I now keep him away from her. — Nameless, Galesburg, Illinois
NAMELESS: I agree that your mother should tell you exactly why she doesn't like the boy you're dating. There must be a reason, and she is making a huge mistake by not sharing it with you.
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.