DR. WALLACE: My father is the controlling type. I’m his oldest daughter and he wants me to study entrepreneurship in college since our family has a successful business that his father founded years ago. I feel the pressure is on me right now because I’m the oldest in our family. I have two younger siblings, a brother who is a year behind me in school and a sister who is three years behind me.
My problem is that I wish to study to become a therapist so that I can help a lot of people over my lifetime and my career. I’ve done well in high school, and I’ve gotten into a great college in our state. But when I told my father what I wanted to study, he got upset and told me that if I didn’t go to college to learn how to make our family business better, he would not pay for it. I don’t have a scholarship or any other way to pay for college at this university, so now I have a dilemma. I either need to forget about that school and attend a community college or go along with my father’s plan.
I don’t really like either of those options and I only have a few months left to figure all this out. Do you have any suggestions for me? — Stuck in a Tough Spot, via email
STUCK IN A TOUGH SPOT: I suggest that you do attend the college you have been accepted to. The reason for this is that situations evolve and people and their thoughts evolve as well.
The first two years of college are intended to be foundational, consisting of general education in which you’ll be taking classes in a variety of fields to build a solid base of knowledge before you specialize or “major” in a particular field during your final two years.
You know how you feel right now, but you can’t be positive about how you may feel two and a half years from now. That’s when you truly need to make your choice on selecting a major.
Your father wants you to get a good education; that’s why he’s offered to pay your tuition. Be honest and tell him that you’ll take entrepreneurship classes and psychology classes during your first two years so that you can learn more about both fields. Also point out to him that you can “major” and “minor” in different fields of study as you work to complete your degree.
This will then set you up to both be honest with your father and to get to work on attending a great college. You’ve earned the right to be accepted to this school, so take advantage of their offer to have you as a student. Keep an open mind and see how you think and develop over the next two and a half years. A lot can happen in the meantime. You might change your mind about things, or perhaps one of your siblings will show great interest in the family business and entrepreneurship. This could cause your father’s perspective to change and evolve as well. Get started now and do your best, all while keeping an open mind about your future.
For future reference, you can always point out to your father that the psychology of customers is always a good thing for every business to study.
WOULD IT BE A BAD IDEA?
DR. WALLACE: My parents got divorced seven years ago and now I live with my father and his new wife, who have been married for a year and a half. My younger brother and I live with my father and only my older sister stayed with my mom.
I’m 16 now and I have two stepsisters, one who is 16 as well and one who is 13 years old. We all get along well, but in my case I’m worried that I get along too well with my oldest stepsister. She’s always flirting with me and I’m becoming really attracted to her. I kind of want to ask her out on a date, but I know that would be weird since we all live together as a family. But on the other hand, I know that we are genetically not linked to each other at all.
Would it be all right to ask her out, or do you feel that would be a bad idea? She’s really nice and pretty, which keeps me thinking that we’d be a good couple someday. — Her Stepbrother, via email
HER STEPBROTHER: I feel it’s never a good idea for stepsiblings to date, especially at your young age. You should view this girl as your sister and be a good brother to her only.
One thing you could do is ask her to introduce you to some of her friends when she feels the timing might be appropriate. You could do the same for her and introduce her to some of your friends, if she’s interested in that. If not, give her space and put thoughts of dating her out of your mind right away.
The fact that you are teenagers living in the same family home with the same two parents overrides everything else in this situation.
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.