Help for troubled teens often is close to home
DEAR ABBY: “Fed-up Father in Minnesota” (Jan. 20) caught his difficult 16year-old daughter smoking pot and is considering sending her to a place for “troubled teens.” We sent our son to such a program on the advice of an education consultant, and he almost didn’t make it back alive. An untreated mental illness had been misdiagnosed as a behavioral problem, and his illness went from bad to worse.
You gave the right advice. Get an evaluation from a reputable clinic or mental health professional, then look for options as close to home as possible. Adolescence is not forever. Parents need to hang on and not be lured into thinking there’s a magical solution. — ANN IN CHAPEL HILL, N.C.
DEAR ANN: I advised “Fed-up” to have a psychologist identify what’s troubling his daughter, and that sending her away should be only a last resort. Readers were eager to comment:
DEAR ABBY: “Fed-up” should consider an intervention like the Scared Straight program. Teens are shown where their bad behavior leads, tour a prison and see inmates serving time for similar conduct. The inmates also share their stories in an effort to turn the teens’ lives around. Sometimes a rude awakening is the answer for a young person traveling down the wrong path. — BRITTANY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR ABBY: I was sent to boarding school because I was acting out and probably on my way to bigger troubles. While there, I was exposed to more than I’d ever been at home. There were poorly supervised kids engaged in sexual activity, every recreational drug imaginable and freeflowing alcohol. I survived, but had the good sense to tell my parents and didn’t return for a second year. What worked for me was attentive parents and a good therapist who provided me a safe, constructive way to sort out my issues. — BOARDING SCHOOL SURVIVOR
DEAR ABBY: “Fed-up” said the problem with his daughter started when he married his second wife. There obviously are issues between his wife and daughter that need resolving. Shipping the girl off won’t fix them.
My stepfather was abusive to me and my brother, but our busy working mom didn’t believe us. My brother began having behavioral problems at school and at home, so Mom gave in to our stepfather’s suggestion to send him to military school in another state.
My brother never forgave Mom for it. He left home at 17, and they have been estranged for 33 years. It is my mother’s biggest single regret. — MARY KATE IN ILLINOIS
There are many deals where success or failure for the declarer depends strictly on the opposing distribution and/or the location of specific key cards. But there are also many deals where the outcome depends on how declarer elects to play rather than on how the opposing cards are divided. It is these hands that are of the greatest interest to most players.
Take this case, where the defense starts by playing three rounds of clubs, declarer ruffing the third. How should South proceed?
One possibility is to play for West to have the king of hearts, in which case two successful heart finesses will allow South to avoid a heart loser and to discard one of his losing diamonds. Declarer’s only losers in that case would be two clubs and a diamond.
A second possibility is to attempt two finesses in diamonds against the missing king and queen. If West has either or both honors, declarer will lose only two clubs and a diamond, eventually discarding his heart loser on dummy’s fourth diamond.
Ultimately, the proper line of play boils down to a question of probabilities. Since there is only a 50 percent chance that West was dealt the king of hearts, and about a 75 percent chance that he was dealt one or both diamond honors, it follows that declarer should pin his hopes on the diamond suit.
Accordingly, after drawing trumps and discarding a heart from dummy, declarer leads a low diamond to dummy’s eight. In the actual deal, East wins with the king and returns a club, ruffed by South. Declarer then leads the diamond 10 and lets it ride. When the 10 holds, the finesse is repeated, and the contract is made.
Note, though, that if South starts by leading the 10 of diamonds initially rather than a low one, he goes down. In that case, he’ll find himself in the wrong hand after the second diamond finesse wins, and eventually he’ll have to lose a trick to the king of hearts.