Alcoholics Anonymous for dad, Alateen for 14-year-old
By Dr. Robert Wallace ’Tween 12 and 20 March 29, 2014 10:40PM
Updated: May 1, 2014 7:19AM
DR. WALLACE: I’m 14 and have a father who has been in jail twice because he was arrested for drunk driving both times. He and I are close, but the last time he went to jail he missed my birthday.
My mom and I keep begging him to stop drinking, but he always says there’s nothing wrong with having a couple of beers with his pals. We’re also worried that he will be hurt if he has an accident while driving after drinking. When he got out of jail the last time, he promised us that he wouldn’t drink anymore. But that only lasted for a few weeks, and then he started drinking again.
I love both my parents very much, but it hurts me to watch my father destroy our family. What can I do to help my dad get a grip on his problem? — Frustrated, Mobile, Ala.
FRUSTRATED: Your father is addicted to alcohol and won’t be able to overcome his drinking habit without help from someone outside the family. Let your goal be to get him to join Alcoholics Anonymous. The phone number for your local AA can be found in the white pages of your telephone directory. You should also become a participant in Alateen. It is a section of Alcoholics Anonymous that helps teens cope with family and friends who are addicted to alcohol.
DR. WALLACE: Daniel and I had been together for about six months when a month ago he broke up with me because he wanted to date another girl. He was a really nice guy and we had a lot of fun together, and my parents liked him, too. I was really hurt when he broke up with me, but there wasn’t anything I could do but accept it. Daniel called me last night and told me he had stopped dating the other girl because he realized he cared for me more than he did for her.
He said he was sorry for breaking up and asked me if I would go out with him again after he and his family return from a short trip this next weekend. This really caught me by surprise and I told him to call me when he returned and I’d let him know.
I think I’d like to get back together with him, but my older sister thinks if I say yes right away, he will take me for granted and then break up whenever he wants to date someone new, and then expect me to go back with him again. When he returns, she thinks I should tell him I haven’t made up my mind and to call me again in a couple of weeks. What should I do? — Confused, Bakersfield, Calif.
CONFUSED: You don’t need my advice or your sister’s either. You have things under control. Wait for him to return home, just as you said you would, and then discuss the possibility of going out with him again. No need to play games or make him feel any worse. Just express the full range of your feelings to him when you talk, and then gauge the sincerity of his response. Then trust your own judgment about whether to get back together with him.
DR WALLACE: I am 13, and a certain nice guy in my school walks me home once in a while. My older married sister saw us walking home yesterday and called my mother to tell her it didn’t look good and that I was going to get a bad reputation. Dr. Wallace, Kenny is a really nice boy and I consider him to be my friend. Do you see anything wrong with having a boy walk me home once in a while? — Emily, Porterville, Calif.
EMILY: Your sister is completely mistaken. Being walked home by a nice young man will enhance a girl’s reputation, not harm it.
Write to Dr. Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org