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Continued: Ask Amy: 'Almost' grad needs nudge

Dear Amy: My great-nephew is almost graduating from high school this month. Apparently, he has not been doing well academically. The school will allow him to walk across the stage if he agrees to finish his work during the summer.

This young man needs to be inspired to realize that he could make choices that benefit him. He has not always had the strongest or most consistent parenting, and he seems to lack self-confidence, motivation and self-discipline.

In many ways, he is in the "normal" hormonal and maturation stages of many 18-year-old young men. In other ways, I believe he needs to be held accountable to build maturity and self-esteem and discover the interests he is willing to work toward.

Do you have any recommendations of inspiring stories or books?

Amy says: I'm not quite sure how someone can cross the stage and "almost graduate," predicated on conditions that haven't yet been met.

This is an example of a deeper problem -- not just concerning young people, but having to do with all of us. If we don't face real consequences, our choices don't matter all that much.

All the same, I am a great believer in second chances and have learned from readers' submissions that the crooked path -- through challenges -- is the one offering the most interesting rewards. That has certainly been the case in my own life.

My favorite inspirational book for this graduation season is "Heroes for My Son," by Brad Meltzer (HarperStudio, $19.99).

Meltzer was inspired to put together a list of heroes when his son was born, and it includes many people your great-nephew would have learned about in school, such as Gandhi, Albert Einstein and Neil Armstrong, but also John Lennon and Eleanor Roosevelt -- and Meltzer's mother.

It's important that your great-nephew learn that each of us has the stuff of heroes within us -- but sometimes we need a little inspiration to see it. Meltzer's comment, "History doesn't just pick [specific] people, history picks everyone," is an invitation to find the hero within.

Helper turned hothead

Dear Amy: My partner and I recently held a large party with 100 guests. A friend of ours helped in a big way with decorations and preparations.

I want to send her a thank-you note to acknowledge her amazing help. Here's the problem: At the party, after a few drinks, she had an emotional episode and yelled offensive things in a loud voice before stomping out. It was an ugly scene that left the other guests upset.

I am angry about this, but will accept her apology if she offers one.

In the meantime, I do not feel sincere sending her a thank-you note for her help because she also had such a negative impact on the party.

Amy says: I suggest a "two-fer." Your thank-you acknowledgment could also serve as a wake-up call to her.

You say: "Your help was absolutely invaluable and we are so appreciative -- I want you to know that. However, I'm also very concerned about you. You made such a dramatic exit and it seemed to come out of nowhere. This upset all of us and really ruined the end of this event, which you worked so hard to help us create."

An apology should be freely offered. If it is, then you can accept it and move on.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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