Dear Annie: I’m a 12-year-old girl attending a middle school. I enjoy eating lunch with my friends and socializing during that time. My friends and I usually sit at the same table every day.
On one particular day, someone took our table before we got there. So my friend, “Alice,” suggested we sit with “Jenny,” who seemed happy to have our company. Jenny is nice, but very different. During lunch, she talked to herself and made odd sound effects, did these short skits in which she performed all of the parts, and told unfunny jokes while she pretended to eat our food. We all laughed at her jokes in order to be polite.
It was OK to sit with Jenny that one day, but for the past week or so, she’s asked to sit with us every single day. We have never refused, for fear of hurting her feelings. (She doesn’t have any other friends to sit with.)
Jenny behaves in the same odd way all the time, and I don’t know how much more of it I can stand. Three of us asked Alice if she knew what we could do, and Alice became angry, so we didn’t bring up the subject again. But I can tell that Alice is annoyed with Jenny, too. What should we do? – At My Limit
Dear Limit: It’s possible that Jenny is suffering from Tourette’s syndrome or some neurological impairment that interferes with her control over her actions. Instead of ditching her, why not ask Jenny, gently, if she is aware that her behavior is a little odd and maybe she could talk to her doctor about it. It may open up a frank and helpful discussion.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “No Grimm Stepmom,” who asked how long she is expected to pay for her stepson’s education. As a college counselor and financial adviser, I often get the question of how long to keep paying for a child’s education. I have come up with a series of questions for parents to analyze:
1. Does the student have a focused goal, such as an advanced degree and teaching credentials, as opposed to changing majors every year?
2. Is the student carrying a reasonable full-time load (12 hours or more)?
3. Is the student making reasonable progress, taking required courses and making at least a “B” average?
4. Can you afford to continue to make this investment in his future?
If the answers are all “yes,” then continue to pay. If not, tell your child to make the answers “yes,” otherwise the answer to any checkbook request is NO. – Dr. D. in Tallahassee, Fla.
Dear Tallahassee: Thank you for clarifying the difference between a perpetual student and one who is actively pursuing specific goals. Your letter will help parents decide if they are simply throwing money down a long drain or assisting their child in achieving success. Here’s one more:
Dear Annie: If “No Grimm Stepmom” wants to discontinue paying tuition, the son will probably be advised by the financial aid department at his university to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( www.fafsa.org). If the student is under age 24, the parents will still be responsible for the student’s loans. The parents and student, however, can work it out so their son is responsible for the loans once he or she graduates.
I have taken this route throughout my college career. Even though I live on my own and support myself, I have to use my parents’ information to receive financial aid. This is fine with me, because I do not have to pay back the loans until I graduate, and I plan to do so without my parents’ money. – Twenty-Two-Year-Old Student in North Carolina
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