DR. WALLACE: I’m 15 and a well-liked, well-rounded student. Yet, it so happens that I am only mediocre when it comes to getting outstanding grades in school. I have to work very hard to maintain a B average, so I do just that. I work hard, and I get almost all B’s in my classes. I’d get a C in almost every class if I just gave a normal effort. But I would be embarrassed to come home and have to show some C grades on my report card to my family.

My parents are college graduates and both practice law. Both of them, at times, have commented on my “lack of intelligence.” About a month ago, my mom made the statement that I’d never become an attorney because I don’t have the necessary smarts. This really hurt me and made me feel uncomfortable. Why can’t my parents accept me just the way I am? I’m doing my best. Both of parents were super high achievers in high school and college; they’ve told me it came naturally to them. They were both A students. I’m just the opposite! — Anonymous, Philadelphia

ANONYMOUS: Your parents need to have a conference with your counselor to be told that you are working up to your ability and they should be very proud of your academic achievements. As an employer, I’d much rather have a B student who works up to his or her ability than a gifted A student who doesn’t have to break a sweat to get top grades, never pushing himself or herself. Make sure your parents read my response to your letter. Remember, you are truly only competing with yourself. That means to be the very best version of YOU that you can be.

DR. WALLACE: I’m a 19-year-old lady, and my guy is 21. We have known each other for five months and want to get married in October.

We definitely love each other very much. There is no doubt about this. My parents like him, but they don’t feel we’ve known each other long enough. They want us to wait until next year. How long do you think a couple should know each other before getting married? — Feeling Ready Already, via email

FEELING READY ALREADY: There is no magic waiting period, though the average is probably about a year. Successful marriages absolutely can result from both long and short engagements. Basically, the amount of time a couple should wait depends on their level of maturity: The less mature they are, the more likely they might be making an impulsive, ill-considered decision. Marriage will be a great test of one’s patience and shouldn’t be embarked on for the sake of immediate gratification.

Waiting a little longer, as your parents suggested, should not be a problem if your man really is the right choice as your life partner. If the two of you are really in love, this love will survive a little longer than the getting-to-know-you phase of the engagement. Use the extra time to have occasional, long, serious discussions about what each of you wants for the future. Remember that you are planning on making a decision to last you a lifetime.

Your letter also did not mention your individual and collective financial situations. Another advantage of waiting a little longer would be that the two of you could each work, with a goal of saving up some extra money to carry into your wedding and new life together. Be sure to include finances as one of the topics you hold long, open and honest discussions about during this time period.

I send my very best wishes to both of you.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at rwallace@thegreatestgift.com. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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