Dr. Wallace:

I’m 16 and my mom refuses to allow me to ride in a car with a teenage driver. My boyfriend is 17. He is in the honor society, has a 3.9 grade point average and is a very conscientious person. He is a safe, courteous driver who obeys all the driving laws.

I’ve asked and begged my mom to allow me to go on a date with my boyfriend when he is driving his own car. Her answer is always no. How can I convince her that I’m safer riding with my boyfriend than I am with a lot of adults?

— Brenda,

Peoria, Ill.

Brenda: Most teens possess the skills to be excellent drivers and many are safe, responsible drivers, but as a group they are poor risks because of youthful exuberance. This is the main reason insurance companies charge more to insure teen drivers.

It’s obvious your mother considers your boyfriend in the poor-risk group. The better your mom gets to know your boyfriend, the better the chances she will agree he is a good driver. If possible, have your mom ride with you and your boyfriend so she can make a first-hand observation of his driving skills and see him as a safe driver.

Dr. Wallace: I’m the mother of a 14-year-old daughter and we still haven’t had our chat about sex. Do I wait for her to bring up the subject, or should I be the one to initiate the discussion? I’m a single parent and I want to make sure I do what is best for my daughter. I know she is interested in boys. She has told me that she wants to have a boyfriend pretty soon because all of her girlfriends have boyfriends already.

— Mother, Moncton, New Brunswick

Mother: The time for a parent-child discussion should start whenever the child asks questions about sex or when the child shows interest in the opposite sex, whichever comes first. It doesn’t need to be one long discussion about all the aspects of sex. Mothers and daughters may find having several shorter sessions, rather than one marathon talk, is more effective.

Parents should always answer all questions honestly regardless of how outrageous they might seem. Children hear a lot about sexual matters from peers. Some of it is true, but some of it is not true. Everything from you should be factual.

Dr. Wallace: I had to quit school when I was 17 and I didn’t have a chance to graduate. Now, at age 19, I find it is important to have a high school diploma, but I don’t have time to go back to school. The counselor at the county employment placement bureau said most employers want workers with a minimum of a high school diploma and would accept a GED certificate. What exactly is a GED and where can I earn one?

— Mike,

Chicago, Ill.

Mike: GED stands for Tests of General Education Development and, according to Stephen Stattler of the American Council on Education Center for GED Testing, approximately 95 percent of American businesses, industries and colleges accept the GED as the equivalent of a high school diploma. To earn a GED, the candidate must pass five separate tests — writing, social studies, science, mathematics, and interpreting literature and the arts, to prove he or she has skills that meet or exceed those of an average high school graduate. A counselor at your former high school can give you more information on obtaining a GED.

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

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