Dr. Wallace:

I’m a senior and will graduate from high school next June. Both of my parents are dentists and they want me to follow in their footsteps. But I have no desire to be a dentist. The thought of probing in some stranger’s mouth is revolting. I would like to be a high school math teacher. My parents think this is a disgusting choice of career opportunities.

Since you are a former educator, I’m positive you will be on my side. Please tell my parents that becoming a teacher is not a disgusting choice. I suspect that even if you support my choice, they won’t respect your opinion because they know you are a former educator. Please help.

— Alex, Chicago.

Alex: Before I would defend teaching as a career choice, I would want to defend something much more basic: the right of children to choose their own career path no matter what it is. Parents who deny their children this right are overstepping their bounds and robbing their kids of the right to their own lives. When it comes to career choice, wise parents encourage; they do not demand.

I speak from experience. My father wanted me to follow in his footsteps and be gainfully employed with the United States Steel Corp., in Gary, Ind. The steel mill provided him with ample money to support a wife and three children, but it was not my choice. I wanted to teach English and coach varsity basketball.

I loved every minute of being an educator and the profession provided me with ample money to support a wife and two children. Eventually, my father admitted that my choice was the right one, but it took time.

If your father and mother are still skeptical, let me remind them that they wouldn’t be excellent dentists today if it weren’t for dedicated professional teachers.

Dr. Wallace: I’m 13 and have a 10-year-old brother who is a little monster. For Halloween, he always dresses like the Frankenstein monster and it suits him well. The only pleasure he gets in life is to pester me and to get me into trouble.

Yesterday, he came into my room when I was studying and started singing. I told him to leave immediately, and then he told me to shut up and then called me a fat pig. I grabbed him and threw him out of my room, and he bounced off of a wall. He wasn’t hurt, but he went crying to our mom and she took his side about “who was in the wrong.”

Now I’m grounded for a month. I feel like I was sentenced for a crime I didn’t commit. If you agree, it might help me get a reduced sentence.

— Nameless, Atlanta

Nameless: Your brother might not be a monster, but he surely is a brat. He should have been punished for his uncouth use of the English language, but throwing him against a wall was not the thing to do, even though his actions provoked you to lose control of your emotions.

Still, a month of grounding does seem a bit harsh. If I were the judge, I would have given you two weeks in which to reflect on your aggressiveness. Let’s hope mom agrees.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallce@galesburg.net