DR. WALLACE: I’m a 14-year-old boy, and my grandparents live with my mom, my sister and me. We all get along pretty well, but my grandpa often tells me that I’m “immature” and that I “need to grow up!”
But I am growing up! Each year I get taller and add more weight. What is he talking about? My grandpa likes me but sometimes he’s hard on me and he does not always make sense? Why are older people like him so confused all of the time? — Growing Grandson, via email
GROWING GRANDSON: I believe he is referring to your mental state of being, not your physical one. He’s likely referring to things you’ve done, or not done, that he’s noticed, and he wants you to gradually become more mature.
Every teen boy matures at a different rate, both physically and mentally. The mental side, however, can be proactively controlled somewhat. I believe this is what he’s referring to. He likely wants you to make better choices, to be more thoughtful and responsible and to think in advance about the likely results of your words and actions.
That’s all well and good, but I feel your grandfather is spending too much time scolding you and not enough time molding you. By this I mean he’s complaining but not doing any instructing, or teaching you how to best handle yourself and the situations you find yourself in.
The next time he makes one of his usual comments, take the time to sit down with him and ask him how he thinks you could have better handled something he’s referring to. You may or may not agree with every viewpoint he shares with you, but I trust that at least some of his advice will actually help you if you think about it and implement it in your life the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.
SHE THINKS SEAT BELTS ARE FOR LOSERS
DR. WALLACE: I’m 15, and my older sister who is 18 often gives me and one or two of my friends a ride home from school to our local mall.
This is fine, but there are a few things that concern me. First of all, my sister gets to drive my mother’s car several times a week because she doesn’t own her own car. She has already graduated high school, and she’ll turn 19 in February.
She’s not really a very good driver because she’s often distracted talking on her phone, and she also sends text messages at traffic lights. But worst of all, I noticed that she never wears her seat belt, and one time when one of my friends asked her about it, she said, “Seat belts are for losers! They wrinkle your clothes!” She even told my friends that if they didn’t want to wear their seat belts in the back seat, they didn’t have to.
Now I’m wondering if I should say something to my parents or not. One of my friends tells me that it’s none of my business and I should just stay out of this entirely. But my other friend tells me that my parents should know about my sister’s behavior, since it is their car she is using.
Which friend do you think I should listen to? — Her Worried Younger Brother, via email
HER WORRIED YOUNGER BROTHER: Listen to the logical one, the friend who feels your parents need to know about this. It’s true that since your parents own that vehicle, they are responsible for it.
Having your parents speak with your sister both about wearing her seatbelt and also talking and texting when she’s driving is actually doing her a huge favor. Her current behavior behind the wheel is putting her in grave danger each and every time she drives the car. And not only is she in danger, but you and your friends are as well. Distracted driving causes a great portion of today’s accidents, and not wearing seat belts is very unwise and unsafe.
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.