Dear Dr. Wallace:
I’m a very responsible 13-year-old girl. I’m on the honor roll at school and do all of my household chores. All of my close friends get to spend time on Saturdays at the local mall. I’m usually not allowed to go, but last week, my mom promised she would let me go to the mall for two hours. She said she would drive me there and pick me up. This was to be part of my birthday present.
So, I was all excited last Saturday morning because I was going to have lunch with four of my friends at our favorite restaurant in the mall. But just when it was time for my mother to take me, one of her friends called, and they talked on the telephone for over an hour. When my mom hung up, she said she didn’t have time to drive me to the mall because she had to go over to this friend’s house. When I said, “You promised you’d drive me to the mall,” she said that, being a mother, she had the right to break a promise. Somehow, I don’t think that’s right or fair.
— Disappointed, via email
Dear Disappointed: Everyone, including parents, should honor their promises unless unforeseen circumstances make them impossible to keep. In your case, however, I really don’t have enough information from your email to know the full circumstances surrounding this situation. If your mother had to break her promise because of a genuine emergency, she at least owed you an explanation. In this case, I would agree that, as the mother, she had the right (and perhaps obligation) to move on immediately to the emergency she was involved or assisting with. If she simply wished to socialize further with her friend after making a birthday promise to take you to the mall, then I would agree with you that her actions were not fair to you.
Dear Dr. Wallace: I really enjoy sports, and I watch all of the big games on television. Sometimes, when there are no important games being played, the sports channel shows world-class poker players playing for a lot of money. Last week, the World Series of Poker was shown. I like to see how these big-time players play their poker hand in a game called Texas Hold ‘em.
My grandmother lives with us, and sometimes she interferes with the things I do. For example, if I watch television for a few hours, she calls me a “couch potato” and tells me to go outside and exercise. I will admit that I’m overweight, but that is none of Granny’s business.
Now, she is upset because I’m watching poker on TV. She told my dad that watching “that junk” will cause me to one day become a gambler. That’s simply not true. I watch murders on some television shows, but I’m never going to murder someone just because I saw a person murder on television.
Now, my dad has restricted me from watching poker on the tube, so I’ve got to go over to my friend’s house to watch Texas Hold ‘em. His parents are cool. Even his dad and mom enjoy seeing who will win the $1 million prizes.
— Poker Fan,
Providence, Rhode Island
Dear Poker Fan: Watching Texas Hold ‘em on television does not mean that you will turn into a serious gambler, but I can inform you that since Texas Hold ‘em has been on television, it has been highly popular with teens (mostly boys), and a disturbing number of them are trying to earn extra money by playing the game. Online poker websites don’t intentionally recruit young people, but these days, an increasing number of them are playing, most with very poor results.
Since you enjoy viewing important athletic events, I’d advise you to stick to the games where a ball is kicked, batted, dribbled or passed. It’s much more exciting than watching a bunch of nonathletes try to outbluff one another for money!