Dr. Wallace:

I’m 15 and want to start dating, but my mom feels I should wait until I’m 17. I think 17 is out of the question. I’ll be an old maid by that time. All of my girlfriends are dating and many are going steady. I’m the fish out of water and I don’t enjoy it one bit.

What age do you think a teen should start dating? Mom said that if you answer my questions, she would take what you say into consideration.

— Madison,

Portland, Maine

Madison: Parents should allow their teens to date when they rate high marks in the areas of reliability, trust, honesty, morality, attitude and common sense. Some teens possess the maturity to date at age 14, while others don’t, even at 17. Most teens, however, begin dating at 15 or 16.

Dating plays a very important role in a teen’s social maturation. Parents should meet their teen’s date beforehand and discuss the particulars: Where will you be going? How will you get there? What time will you be home? Teens who resist this, indicate that they lack the maturity to date.

Dr. Wallace: I’m 15 and a well-liked, well-rounded student. It so happens that I’m average when it comes to grades. I have to work hard to maintain a B average. Both of my parents are college graduates and practice law. Both of them, at times, have commented on my “lack of intelligence.”

About a month ago, my mom made the statement that I’d never become an attorney because I don’t have the necessary smarts. This really hurt me. Why can’t my parents accept me just the way I am? I’m doing my best. Both parents were honor students in high school and college and they don’t understand why I am not.

— Nameless,

Springfield, Ill.

Nameless: Your parents need a conference with your counselor to be told that you are working up to your ability and that they should be very proud of your academic achievements. As an employer, I’d much rather have the B student who works up to his ability than the gifted A student who doesn’t have to break a sweat to get top grades and never pushes himself. Make sure your parents read my response to your letter.

Dr. Wallace: How many teens suffer from anorexia (self-starvation to look thin) and how many teens actually die from this eating disorder? My aunt says there are a lot of girls in Southern California who are anorexic. I’m sure there are some anorexic girls here in Jackson, but I’ve never seen one.

— Rose, Jackson, Mich.

Rose: The most prevalent age period for anorexia is from age 13 to 18. In the book “Guide to Anorexia and Bulimia” by Robert DiCuio, Ph.D., the estimate is that one in 100 young women and one in 2,000 young men between 13 and 18 will develop anorexia and that 10 percent of those who suffer from this eating disorder will die as a result of medical complications. Needless to say, anorexia nervosa is a serious affliction and professional treatment should be made available for those who are obsessed with thinness.

Dr. Wallace: All the experts say it’s safer to drive during day than at night. Why is this? Aren’t there fewer automobiles on the roads at night?

— Phil, Porterville, Calif.

Phil: Yes, there are fewer vehicles on the roads at night, but nighttime driving is still more dangerous. According to the American Automobile Association, such factors as headlight glare, sleepiness, restricted visibility, and a high percentage of drunk drivers make nighttime driving more dangerous.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.