Abby: Customs in China at odds with teacher’s ethics

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I teach in an international primary school in China and was approached by the father of one of my students. I had given her a “C” in the class. Her father wanted me to change her grade to an “A.” He felt that a “C” was too low a mark, even though I explained it was what she deserved.

While parents complaining about their children’s marks is not uncommon, he offered me about $1,000 in local currency if I would change it. When I spoke about it to another teacher who has been here longer, he told me that bribery is very common in Asia. What should I do? Accepting and not accepting this “gift” both have consequences.

Teacher in China

Dear Teacher: There is tremendous pressure on students in China to excel. What you have described may be common practice there, but that doesn’t mean you must do it. If you accept the bribe, you will not only have violated your own principles, but may also make yourself vulnerable to blackmail in the future. Discuss this with the principal or director of the primary school, because if the school turns out incompetent graduates, eventually its reputation will suffer.

Dear Abby: I’m an 18-year-old girl and on my way to Navy boot camp. I’m excited about my enlistment, but I have a few troubling distractions.

The first is my mother, “Dana.” I moved in with my dad a year and a half ago, and it has been a positive change. But any contact I have with Dana or my grandmother screws me up majorly.I’m just an all-around bad person to be around. This upsets my dad and my stepmom, “Ashley,” whom I consider to be my true mom, and my three sisters.

They say I need to forgive and let go. I need is advice on how to forgive and remove her from my life without hurting her feelings or making it worse at home.

On My Way To Boot Camp

Dear On Your Way: It isn’t necessary to forgive a toxic parent. What you need to do is distance yourself from her, which will happen soon as you depart for boot camp. If being around Dana depresses you, see her as little as possible and don’t feel guilty about it. Do not demand or expect an apology from her; separating oneself from someone who mistreated you is healthy.

Dear Abby: I recently graduated from a prestigious university. I am proud of having graduated from there, and I would like to put a bumper sticker of that university on my car. My father says I shouldn’t do it because it will come across as pretentious. While I understand where he’s coming from, my pride for my alma mater is no different than that of many of my high school friends who went to various universities. I would appreciate your opinion.

Proud Alum in Texas

Dear Proud Alum: I’m sure your father means well. However, if you would like to advertise the fact that you graduated from a prestigious university, go ahead and do so. You have earned the right.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.