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Daughter's Behavior Puts Her on the Brink of Banishment

DEAR ABBY: I caught my 16-year-old daughter, "Krista," smoking marijuana. I punished her for it, but never told my wife because I was afraid she'd force me to make a decision that I don't want to make.

I have been married to my second wife for three years. For much of that time, Krista has been a nightmare. When she goes to school, more often than not she's in the principal's office for bad behavior. At home she's worse. She doesn't listen to anyone. We have tried every type of punishment we can think of and nothing has worked.

Recently, my wife brought up the idea of sending Krista to a boarding school for troubled teens. At first, the suggestion made me angry, but after the marijuana incident I am more receptive to it. I am wracked with guilt. Sending my daughter away makes me feel like a failure as a father. But there may be no other choice. How does a parent know when enough is enough? -- FED-UP FATHER IN MINNESOTA

DEAR FATHER: Do not send your daughter away to a boarding school for "troubled teens" without first having a psychologist identify what is troubling her. If you do what your wife is suggesting, your daughter could return home with more problems than she left with. Sending her away should be a last resort. Some family counseling should be tried first.

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