Dear Dr. Wallace:
I’m 17 and dating a wonderful girl who is also 17. She is a truly special girl, and I am thrilled that we are dating each other steadily. I feel great when I’m with her. Since we are both academically inclined, we spent a lot of time studying together. We have three classes in common (Spanish, English and Chemistry), and it really helps to discuss things with each other. When we study together, it’s always at her house from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
My problem is that my girlfriend’s parents never make me feel welcome. They rarely say anything to me except hello and goodbye. I’ve never discussed this with my girl because our studying sessions are so great and seem to go by so fast. Sometimes I think her parents don’t like me. Would it be proper for me to ask my girlfriend to set up a short meeting with her parents to find out what it is they have against me?
— Study Partner,
Dear Study Partner: If her parents didn’t approve of you dating their daughter, you wouldn’t be studying together four times a week in their home. Do not seek a meeting with her parents at this time. It appears to me they have nothing against you and they have actually accepted you as a good friend of their daughter.
Holding a meeting where you ask — or worse, confront — her parents about “what they have against you” is not a good idea. I suggest you realize that you have a very good thing going and that you remain friendly, calm and very polite whenever you visit your girlfriend’s home.
Dear Dr. Wallace: Never did I think that I would be writing to you, but your answer to a boy in Sacramento was so bad that I could not let it slide without a reply. This boy was upset because apparently one of his teachers didn’t like him and was picking on him. He said that was the primary reason why his grades were so low.
You proceeded to place the blame on this boy, not his teacher! I hate to break it to you, but there are teachers who pick on their students because they don’t like the clothes the student wears or who the parents are. I fully admit it should not be that way, but this problem does indeed exist.
I have been a teacher in a public school for 20 years, and I have observed this done to students by other teachers at our school. Sometimes I have put myself between the students and the teacher making disparaging remarks, which doesn’t make me popular in the faculty lounge.
— Special Education Teacher, via email
Dear Teacher: I will agree that there are some teachers who might be better suited for another profession.
This particular boy said that all but one of his teachers were “picking” on him and that he hated his school. It boils down to the meaning of “picking” on him, and in this instance, I took it to mean that the student lacks discipline and likely has weak study habits — not that several teachers simultaneously are allowing prejudices to cloud their teaching skills.
I’ll stick with my answer. When his behavior and study habits improve, so will his relationship with his teachers — and his grades will likely rise as well.