DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is 16 years old. Instead of being obsessed with getting his driving permit or going on dates, he has decided to dedicate his free time to getting accepted to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He has two years, but there is a strenuous physical examination in addition to serving four years in the Navy afterward.
My son, "David," is strongly considering this. I never told him to not follow his dreams, but I'm honestly hoping the 7.9 percent admission rate at the Naval Academy will mean he'll have to attend a regular university. David can already run a 5.30-minute mile and is pushing himself in the gym whenever he isn't doing work. I love this level of commitment and have never seen him this passionate; however, this all scares me. My son could be in a war zone in less than seven years. Should I let him apply to the Naval Academy and secretly hope he doesn't get in? I don't know how to convey how dangerous it could be to serve our country. -- No Navy for Teen, Washington, D.C.
DEAR NO NAVY FOR TEEN: It is understandable that you would have some reservations about your son going into the military. At the same time, there are tremendous benefits to the experience. Among them, he will cultivate tremendous discipline, learn useful skills and be employed. Rather than discouraging your son, talk to him about what he hopes to learn. There are many different jobs in the Navy. If he knows his specific areas of interest up front, it may help him to focus when he enters.