Dr. Wallace:

I’m a very frustrated 16-year-old girl. I read your columns as often as I can and I admire the fact that you are honest. Your answers help teens think out their problems and you show them both sides of the situation.

There are only a few understanding adults in this world and you happen to be one of them. I just wish that my parents could be included in the few, but they are not.

Teens need to share an opinion, to be heard, to offer suggestions and to share in family planning. Just because we are not adults is no reason for parents to make us shut up and listen.

I get very upset when I start to express my views to my parents and they interrupt me in the middle of a sentence. Then they tell me I’m wrong and try to make me admit it. Many times this happens right before school and it ruins my day.

Sometimes I feel like shouting, “Please don’t ignore me; I need to be heard.” Do you agree with what I’m saying?

— Nameless,

Lake Charles, La.

Nameless: Thanks for your eloquent letter. I’m sure you speak for every teen on Earth.

Yes I agree with you completely. Parents who ignore their teens or show contempt for their opinions do so at the peril of the future. Your point of view is crucial and merits a close, respectful hearing, not automatic dismissal, and certainly not interruption in mid-sentence!

I hope Mom and Dad read your letter and allow you to share your views during family discussions. Of course, parents make the final decision, but input from their children should be welcome and considered.

Open and welcome communication among all members is a prime ingredient for a respectful and happy family.

Dr. Wallace: I’m 19, weigh 110 pounds, and am 5 feet, 1 inch “short.” My fiance is 6 feet tall, but tips the scale at almost 300 pounds — and it’s not muscle. It’s fat. I love Steve very much. He is a wonderful human being. He’s a chef at a fine restaurant and generally has his life in order. One of his problems, though, is that, as a chef, he nibbles on food to make sure it is “just right.”

I enjoy going out with Steve, but people always stare because I’m so tiny and he’s so huge. In fact, my best girlfriend thinks I’ve got a screw loose for going with, as she says, a fat man. Even my parents have made remarks about Steve’s weight. His weight doesn’t bother me, so why should it concern others so much?

— Carla, Albany, N.Y.

Carla: Indirectly, Steve’s weight does bother you. You feel uncomfortable because people wonder why you are dating a huge guy and stare when you’re together.

There is nothing wrong with being overweight other than the increased health risks. Simply for that reason, I’d encourage him to get a medical checkup and get advice from a physician who can help him institute a program to lose some of those extra pounds. He may never choose to lose weight unless you can convince him that he is susceptible to severe health problems by being obese.

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