DR. WALLACE: My mother is very strict; she has rules that I must follow, or I get my cell phone taken away. One of her rules is that I must be home at 5 p.m. sharp every day. If I'm late by even a minute, my phone gets taken away for a full day per minute I'm late!

Yesterday I was with my best friend, who wouldn't hurry up and leave the mall when I asked her to. I was 27 minutes late getting home, since we drove there in her car. I tried to explain to my mom that I was late because I had to help my friend go shopping for her grandma and it took a long time, but my mom didn't care.

So, now I just lost my phone for almost a whole month! Do you think I can have my friend's mom talk to my mom to explain and get my mom to give me my phone back? I'm lost without my phone! — My Story's Not Phony, via email

MY STORY'S NOT PHONY: Yes, you should have your friend's mother talk to your mother to better explain the situation and to confirm that you got caught staying later than you wanted to since you were doing your friend a favor.

However, I do feel that you should have called or texted your mother to let her know you were going to be late once you realized you would not be able to make the deadline.

If you're lucky, your mother might accept this explanation and erase your penalty this one time. If your mother does not accept this explanation, it's worth trying something else: negotiating. In this case, tell your mom that you do feel one-third responsible since you didn't warn her in advance that you were running late. Tell her you feel a penalty of one-third of the time would be fair and offer her a nine-day sentence to see how she reacts to that; you might be able to knock 18 days off of your penalty.

DR. WALLACE: My 13-year-old daughter did not get invited to the birthday party of the most popular teen in our town and this has left her heartbroken. As a parent, what can I do now to help her get over this? — Worried Mom, via email

WORRIED MOM: It is indeed hard for a child to suffer disappointment when not invited to a specific event and feeling left out.

I suggest that you take your daughter and one or two of her closest friends to a special event they would enjoy, such as a concert, amusement park or sporting event. This will give her something to keep her mind off the party as well as something to share when she talks to her friends about what activities they have all recently been engaged in.

Dr. Robert Wallace will answer questions from readers in this column. Email him at rwallace@galesburg.net.

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