Q. I’m a junior in high school. My parents are really hard on me about my grades.
They get mad if I get below a 95 on anything. I have a lot going on this year, and just got a new job. So now I’m trying to juggle schoolwork, a job, piano, guitar, horseback riding, clubs, friends, and a boyfriend — all on about three hours of sleep, due to my insomnia. My parents are aware of my insomnia but don’t help me with it. I know I could be a lot less stressed if I drop honors level chemistry and take “regular” level.
However, when I mentioned this to my mom, she freaked out, saying that I’m not investing enough time into chemistry, even though I spend 90 minutes a night studying it.
All this stress is wearing me out. Without dropping horseback riding (which is the one thing that keeps me sane), is there anything I can do to either help her understand or get a handle on this before it kills me?
A. I am worried about you. Your insomnia is contributing greatly to your stress — and it must be addressed. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead not only to more stress (and trouble concentrating), but serious health problems, including depression.
Parents freak out about things — just like kids do.
Please do this: Plan a conversation. Choose a quiet time. Write down all of your activities and classes. Prioritize them in order of importance to you.
Tell them, “I’m feeling very stressed and I’m worried about a lot of things. Can you help me sort it out?”
I don’t think you should angle to drop chemistry. But would they freak out if you came home with an 80 on a test? Ask them.
Q. I’m 14 years old, and my friends and I are very social-media oriented. We have a classmate, “Derrick,” who — though he’s a bit shy and reserved — has always been a nice guy.
He just joined Facebook, and because at my school the students are pretty close, we all accepted his friend requests.
Amy, he is a horrible Facebook friend! At first, he would just make awkward comments on our status updates. Then he started sending us private messages asking in-depth questions. He posts all over our timelines and made an offensive comment (he was trying to be funny).
I know he is trying to reach out, but I can’t take this Facebook drama much longer! One of our classmates has already unfriended him, and he didn’t understand why. He’s a good guy in real life, and we all like him, but having him on Facebook has pushed us to our wits’ end. Your advice?
A. Facebook seems simple, but it actually requires some real finesse to do it well. Many people go a little cuckoo when they first join and they simply overshare. Then they settle down once they figure out that Facebook presents an opportunity to present a positive version of themselves — and also absorb other users’ versions of themselves.
Give “Derrick” a tutorial. Just tell him, “Derrick, let me show you how this thing really works.” Show him that on FB, less is generally more. He should concentrate for now on “liking” posts and sharing short positive comments on what other people post. He should not blanket others’ timelines with his own postings, but should post only on his own timeline. Humor is a surprising danger zone on FB; sometimes a “funny” comment can come off as snarky, insincere, or mean.Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.