DR. WALLACE: Most teens count the days until they are allowed to go on dates by their parents, but I’m just the opposite. I’m now 16 and a half years old, and I have not yet been on any dates. My parents allowed my older sister to date at 16 years old, and I was given the same opportunity.
My situation is that I don’t want to just rush in to dating by just going out with anybody. I want to find somebody truly interesting and someone who I care more about than just a random person. So far, nobody has risen to that level.
But now, both my mom and her sister — my aunt — are hounding me to know when I’ll be going on my first date! They’ll often make comments about boys around my age at our local malls and shopping centers, and they say I should go up and talk to these strange boys. However, I’ll never do that, as I’m not comfortable walking up to a complete stranger and hitting on him.
Is there something wrong with me that I’m hesitant to start dating? — Starting Slowly, via email
STARTING SLOWLY: There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing your dates carefully! You have articulated a logical strategy to begin your dating career, and best of all, you seem quite comfortable with your strategy, so I suggest that you stay the course and wait until you find the right person to go out on your first date with. Being selective and looking for commonality in your future dates will likely serve you quite well over your lifetime.
Don’t worry about peer pressure from many of your friends, or especially from your mother and your aunt.
WHY CAN’T WE DRINK LEGALLY AT 18 LIKE THEY DO?
DR. WALLACE: I was reading recently that there are some countries around the world that allow 18-year-olds to legally drink alcohol. But here in the good old United States, we have to wait until we turn 21!
I’m 19, and this past summer I drank a few cold beers at a music festival and also at a sporting event. My older friends who are 21 just buy me a beer and give it to me, so it’s actually quite easy for a 19-year-old to get a drink on a hot summer day.
I don’t understand why our society thinks that if you are 20 years and 364 days old that you’re too immature to drink, but magically on the morning of a 21st birthday, some mystical sense of responsibility arrives!
Lots of rules and laws make no sense at all to me. I’ve seen many other people who are in their 30s and even 40s who can’t handle their alcohol and shouldn’t be drinking at all. Why don’t we just drop the drinking age to 18 like some other countries do? — I Think Our Rules Are Crazy, via email
I THINK OUR RULES ARE CRAZY: Rules and laws must start somewhere. At any age that is selected, it will always be true that the night before turning a particular age will create a one-day threshold illegality versus legality.
Laws are enacted both to protect society as a whole and also individuals who are the ones in the crosshairs of any particular law.
I do agree with you that many people of all ages should not be drinking at all since they can’t handle their actions responsibly when they consume alcohol, often in large quantities.
I disagree with you that 18-year-olds should be allowed to drink legally in America. Many 18- to 20-year-old young people lack maturity and/or experience to be able to safely control their actions when using alcohol. This not only endangers them but also puts others around them at risk as well, especially if driving a motor vehicle is involved. Based upon what I have witnessed and studied, teenagers and alcohol do not mix well at all.
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.