DR. WALLACE: My parents divorced a few years ago, and they now live about 15 miles apart from each other. I could attend my current high school from either of my parents’ homes. They “deal with” each other but they are not really on the best of terms with each other, if you know what I mean.
I want to live with my dad, but my mom won’t let me. I’m 15 years old and I never went to court when I was younger, so I don’t know what the actual legal status of my custody arrangement is. My mom would still have both of my little sisters living with her. She pays much more attention to them anyhow.
What are my options at this point, if I have any options at all? — Son of Divorced Parents, via email
SON OF DIVORCED PARENTS: Speak with both of your parents individually at first, and then hopefully in one sit-down meeting all together. Let them know what your reasons are for wanting to live with your father.
Hopefully your parents can work something out that they mutually feel would be in your best interests. I assume your father does indeed want you to live with him, so his first step would be to seek approval from your mother voluntarily. If this fails, his next step would be to look into what legal rights he has regarding your custody.
Indeed, you are unaware of what was decided in court years ago, but perhaps now that some time has passed there can be a peaceful compromise arranged.
6:30 A.M. IS NOT FOR SUMMERTIME!
DR. WALLACE: I’m 16, it’s summertime and I stay out late most nights with my friends. I want to sleep late in the mornings and enjoy my time off from school in the most relaxing way possible. We just went through a full year of waking up early to “Zoom school” because of the pandemic. Now I just want to return to being a regular teenager.
My mom, however, has a different idea and wants me to wake up at 6:30 a.m. every morning even though there is no school. She tells me that this builds character in a person and that when I’m older I’ll thank her for making me do this every day. Twice this week already she’s dragged me physically right out of my bed at 6:30 on the dot!
There isn’t anything for me to do at 6:30 a.m. in the summer but watch stupid cartoons on television. I’d rather be getting my rest and be able to wake up later and more refreshed.
How can I convince my mom to let me sleep like a normal teenager does? — TOO EARLY WAKEY, via email
TOO EARLY WAKEY: Unless you have specific chores or an event to attend at 6:30 in the morning, I agree that you should be allowed to catch up on your sleep. Teenagers usually need at least eight hours of sleep a night, and as long as you’re getting roughly that in total, you have the best chance to remain healthy.
Since you are staying out later at night in the summer, it’s natural to sleep a bit longer in the morning. Sleep is a zero-sum game. You can’t store it up and use it later, nor can you miss big chunks of sleep and make it all up at once.
Many teens sleep a bit later in the mornings during the summertime when school is not in session. I feel that you should have a bedtime of midnight and you should arise at roughly 8:00 a.m. That would give you some time to have fun in the evenings but also allow you to get your eight hours of rest.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.