Dear Dr. Wallace:

I have two teens, a boy and a girl. There have been several occasions when my daughter has been asked to babysit, but when she is not available, I suggest to the family making the inquiry that perhaps my son could babysit in my daughter’s place. In most instances, I’ve been told, “No, thanks, we prefer to have girls babysit our children.”

My son is very good with children, and I’ve expressed this fact, but the answer is still “no boys, thank you!” Why are most people so closed-minded when it comes to the gender of the babysitter they choose to hire?

— Mother of a Very Responsible Son, via email

Dear Mother Of A Responsible Son: I’m sure boys can also be effective babysitters if given the opportunity, but some parents feel that girls are more responsible and innately nurturing.

The chance for boys to babysit might also often be denied because teen males are considered to be more sexually aggressive than females; therefore, many parents perceive there is more of a risk in that department by hiring a male babysitter. Of course, each individual, male or female, should be evaluated on their track record combined with their overall character.

There are, indeed, many very responsible and nurturing young men who could do a great job looking out for the safety and welfare of children, if given the opportunity. After all, many of them will eventually go on to be wonderful fathers of their own children someday.

Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m a high school girl, and I met a guy at my school who I ended up dating for over a year. We got along OK, but there were never really any sparks in the relationship for me. When we first went out, we had a good time, and I was really impressed with him because he was so smart and well-spoken on many topics. He treated me OK, but we were always more like buddies than a passionate couple.

About six months ago, well before most of us had heard of COVID-19, I realized I no longer cared for him in a romantic way, so I ended our relationship but made it very clear that we could remain good friends if he wished to.

Well, our breakup really affected this guy! He’s been calling me almost every day crying and begging me to come back to him. He has also threatened to leave our city and join the military.

Last night, he called me and said if I didn’t return to him that he would commit “COVID suicide” by not taking any care to avoid catching the virus. This really got to me because it sounded so weird. I know sometimes people make suicide threats, but they are not serious and just crying out. However, I’ve read and heard that some people do follow through on their suicide threats. I would never recover and never forgive myself if he killed himself because of me. This has now left me both confused and scared. What should I do?

— Worried Ex,

via email

Dear Worried Ex: This sounds to me like emotional blackmail, especially since this young man is a teenager and his threat to you was to intentionally catch a virus during a worldwide pandemic in an effort to end his life.

Besides this being a very bad idea, if he were to act upon that threat, he could endanger other members of his family or yours and, of course, any other person he was to come into contact with.

No matter what, this is definitely not a reason to start dating him ever again. That would be disastrous for both of you, on both an emotional and physical level. For example, how could you ever trust that he would look out for his and your health in the future?

You mentioned that he was intelligent and very well-spoken on current events. He has likely taken the opportunity to use the virus as an excuse to whine to you about returning to him. Don’t do this under any circumstances.

What you should do is contact his parents and tell them exactly what he said to you. Tell them that you don’t intend to date him ever again but that you do care for his safety, so you wanted to relay his threats to them, for both his good and theirs.

Make this call to his mother or father right away, and be sure to inform your parents as well.

It could be that he’s only bluffing, but anytime a person threatens suicide in any form, those closest to the individual must be informed of the details immediately.

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

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