Dr. Wallace:

Please help me out. I’m 17 and have an opportunity to visit France this summer for three weeks. I’d be traveling with my best friend and her parents who were born in France. I really want to go. I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to visit a foreign country and I could practice my French. I’ve never been out of Canada. My parents are both teachers and they have arranged for me to take two college courses this summer (I have one more year of high school) that will count toward my college degree.

What do you think is more important? I know they read your column and might change their minds if you agree with me. Please print this soon. Time is running out.

— Lauren, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Lauren: If I had been given an opportunity to travel to France with a friend and his family, I would have done all in my power to convince my parents to allow me to go. You can always pick up those couple of college classes, but you might never again have the chance to visit France, especially with people who know their way around the country and can immerse you in the culture as well as the language.

Sometimes parents need to be reminded that education has a broad definition; it’s not limited to what happens in the classroom. The great, wide world, with its astonishing diversity of cultures, has much to teach us!

Dr. Wallace: I have a serious problem with my father. My boyfriend and I have been dating steadily for the past nine months. I’m a very good student, active in school activities, and I teach Sunday School at our church. I’ve never been in trouble and I’m not involved in drugs, alcohol or tobacco. I am also proud to say that I’m a virgin and have no plans to become sexually active.

My boyfriend is a nice guy with a great personality. He’s popular at school and gives the outward appearance that he is a lady’s man, but he really isn’t. He only gets average grades and, at times, is the class clown. He has been suspended from school several times, but not for anything serious.

It so happens that my dad doesn’t care much for him. He hasn’t told me I have to stop seeing him, but he has come close. My boyfriend and I talk on the phone for only 15 minutes every night and that’s OK, but my dad has the telephone rigged so that all our conversations are taped and he listens to all of them when I hang up. We were told that our conversations would be taped, so it’s no surprise and we are very careful of our word usage.

Do you think my dad is being a wise parent by taping our telephone talks or do you think that he is making a big mistake? My dad is aware that I am writing to you.

— Nameless,

Wilmington, Del.

Nameless: Trust between parents and their children is a precious commodity. With it, a family functions happily; without it, a family can easily unravel. Trust is a terrible thing to break — and taping a daughter’s telephone conversations does just that.

In my opinion, your father is being not only overly cautious, but very unwise. With your outstanding citizenship and scholarship, you have certainly warranted his trust. You don’t deserve to be treated like a crime suspect.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.

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