January 26, 2011

Dear Delphi,

I am a single dad and this morning I found my cute, sweet, 17-year-old daughter passed out in the driver’s seat in our driveway. I am scared to death and angry. What can I do to keep her safe?

“€”Dumbstruck Dad in D.C.

Dear Dumbstruck Dad in D.C.,

There is only one way to change a teenager’s habits”€”FEAR. Unfortunately, teenagers are the hardest people to scare. They are fearless and arrogant. They can do anything they want and nothing bad will ever happen. They are not fearful of being grounded or having privileges taken away so much as they are annoyed and inconvenienced. Showing them gory movies of bloody car-crash victims or reciting random statistics and jail sentences is not going to work. You need to induce some long-lasting, trauma-inducing fear.

You could kill someone, you could be killed, you could get arrested, have your licensed revoked, and go to jail”€”none of this will work.  Call your local police station and explain you need their assistance with fear tactics. Take her to gawk at drunk-driving victims in the morgue”€”the younger, the better. Call the hospital and ask if they have any patients crippled or otherwise gruesomely disfigured in a drunk-driving accident”€”the younger and more crippled, the better. Under no circumstances show her a person who walked away from an accident with a bump on the head and a broken arm! If the hospital and the police refuse your request, you will need to search out victims”€™ families in the area and force her to go talk with families and victims about the devastation the accident caused. Bring her face-to-face with someone who lost their face in a car accident.

Dear Delphi,

My father-in-law recently died and left my husband a lot of money. My husband, who is 50, ran off with his inheritance, leaving the children and I in a cloud of dust. I mean, literally ran off. He is presently in Bali doing God knows what, and who knows when he”€™ll return? What can I do?

“€œThere is only one way to change a teenager’s habits”€”FEAR. Unfortunately, teenagers are the hardest people to scare.”€

“€”Shock and Awe in Aspen

Dear Shock and Awe in Aspen,

Has your husband spent his life struggling to make money? Was he always worried about not having enough? Is he the kind of man who sacrificed his own desires and comforts to give you and the children what you wanted or needed? If it’s possible that this is simply him blowing off years of pent-up financial anxiety, then give him a chance and wait for him to come back and explain himself. Maybe it is a case of “€œmoney adrenaline”€ and he will return to his senses once he has come to terms with his newfound powers and freedoms.

If you don”€™t care what his motives are or you don”€™t think it is money adrenaline but rather a case of “being an asshole” and he is presently impregnating a native girl never to return, take some time and plan yourself a very nice divorce settlement. Talk to lawyers. Find out exactly what he inherited and how much you can get. Then relax and start daydreaming about how you are going to spend his money. Treat yourself to some nice spa days, fine wines, and expensive accessories while you await his possible return.


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