DR. WALLACE: I’m a 16-year-old girl. I usually walk home from summer school with my best girlfriend, but she had to stay after class to do a project. So, I walked home alone one day last week.
One of our neighbors saw me and offered me a ride home. I accepted. It wasn’t a big deal. I don’t really know this guy too well but he is a neighbor who only lives three houses away from us. He’s about 35 years old.
My little brother saw me get dropped off by this neighbor and told my mom. She then totally freaked out and I got grounded for a week! She told me I’m never allowed to ride home with anyone other than a family member.
I think I was unjustly punished. I seem to recall that I’ve seen my parents (at least my dad) wave to this guy occasionally when we drive by his house and he’s outside.
What do you think about this? Do I deserve to be grounded? — A 5-minute ride cost me a week, via email
A 5-MINUTE RIDE COST ME A WEEK: I understand your mother’s concern. Your mom didn’t feel you know this neighbor well enough to get into a car along with him. Your punishment may seem harsh in your eyes, but your mom made her point. You won’t soon forget this lesson.
This particular guy may or may not be dangerous to you, but that is really not the point here. The point is exactly as your mother outlined it: You are not to take a ride from anyone other than a family member unless you have advance permission from one of your parents.
I AGREE: PARENTS SHOULD MEET YOUR DATES
DR. WALLACE: I’m 17 and am allowed to date. I have a car. I usually drive over to my dates’ homes to pick them up, or if we are going to a fast food place like McDonalds, I’ll just meet them there.
Yes, I’m a girl, but I think driving to a date on my own gives me total independence. I never had any date of mine think this was an unusual arrangement or make a comment at all about me driving.
My problem is that now my parents want to meet the guys I’m dating. They want me to pick the guy up and drive back to our house for an “interrogation.” I don’t think it’s necessary because I may never go out with one particular guy again, so it seems crazy to bring each and every first date over for a conference before we can hang out alone. I’m really never at anyone’s mercy in my own vehicle. What do you think? Are my parents just too overprotective? — Car owner, via email
CAR OWNER: I believe your parents should have the option to meet the guys you are going out with. Remember that you are living in their home, so you must abide by their rules.
Your parents are curious and protective. They should be when it comes to a guy who is spending time with you. It’s better that your parents have a chance to have a relationship with the guys you’re dating, even if it seems awkward at first. If you feel self-conscious about this, you can intentionally leave a sweater or jacket (or your phone!) at your parent’s house. Then, once you pick up your date, you can return home to collect your “forgotten” item, and your parents will have their opportunity to say hello.
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.