Dear Dr. Wallace:
I have a problem. Although it’s not earth-shattering, I would like your comments. I’m a senior in high school and have to make a choice right away.
My parents are legally separated and have been apart for over two years. They are not good friends, but I have a good relationship with both my mother and my father. My dad works in the physical education department at a Midwestern university. (We all live in the Midwest now). My mom is going to be moving to work at a new job as a college professor in Austin, Texas, in the new year. Dad said that I could live with him and his female friend if I wanted to graduate in the Midwest with my friends. I don’t know her well, but I guess she seems OK.
Now comes my question. Would it be better if I finish my senior year attending the school I’m in, or should I become a Texan 100 percent and go with my mom right away? My mom was born in Dallas, and she said I would love the Lone Star State. She even helped me apply to the college she will be working at in Austin “just in case.” Lo and behold, I got accepted! I do want to live at home for the first year or two of college, as well, until I can learn how to support myself. Now, what to do?
— At a crossroad,
Dear Crossroad: Become a Texan 100 percent. You will make new friends in Texas and will enjoy attending a university where your mom will be a professor.
You will feel much more at home with Mom than with your dad and his live-in girlfriend. I trust you will love living in Texas, as it’s a wonderful state — and you already know how great the Midwest is. Perhaps this is a time to expand your horizons in life.
Dear Dr. Wallace: Jan is 12, and she is my best friend. We tell each other everything. We are very close. This past summer, her divorced mom remarried. Jan despises her stepfather. The main reason is because he beats her with a strap and a paddle. Last night, she showed me red welts and bruises on her back and arms. Her stepfather beat her because she came home from school a half-hour late.
Jan is afraid and knows that she will get beat again, but she doesn’t know what to do to get the beatings to stop. She asked me for advice, but I don’t know what to tell her. Please help.
— Scared Friend,
Dear Scared Friend: Tell Jan to contact the school nurse or counselor immediately. School personnel are trained to deal with parental physical abuse against children. If she refuses, you must contact one of them yourself. It also would be wise for you to have her call the national child abuse hotline — toll-free at 800-422-4453 — and ask for their guidance if Jan’s afraid to speak up at school. Tell her you will make the call, with her on a speakerphone if possible. The bottom line is that you must be certain to get Jan help the moment you read my reply here. This situation is entirely unacceptable and dangerous and must be stopped immediately. If Jan won’t take any action at all, please tell your parents that I instructed you to tell them immediately, as they will know what action to take. Good luck, and protect your friend right away, no matter what path must be taken to get her the help she urgently needs.
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