I Think My Husband Is Cheating

Dear Sara,

I think my husband is cheating on me. He goes out every Friday night and says he’s going to the gym. I also found out that he has been taking really long lunch breaks a couple of times a week. Last week I found a condom in his jacket pocket. We have four teenage kids and I really think a divorce would be hard on them and I don’t want to be on my own. How should I handle this?

Dear Jenna,

You probably have two choices, Ignore or confront. If you choose to ignore what is going on you probably will be unhappy but your life will go on as usual. His relationship could end and things would go back to normal or he could become serious in his relationship and ask for a divorce. If you confront him things could go either way again. If your relationship has been fairly happy before this you might suggest marriage counseling and try to work things out. If this is not a serious relationship you could have a chance of saving your marriage and making it stronger. Let your husband know that you care about him and you want to save your marriage. I hope things work out.

Dating A Wealthy Boy

Dear Sara,

My daughter is seventeen and dating a boy from a very wealthy family. We don’t have much money. I am divorced and trying to support my family. We rent a small home and my teens have part-time jobs. We definitely don’t belong in their social circle. My daughter now thinks she is better than me. I don’t think this relationship will work and she will regret it. How can I get her to listen to me?

Dear Audrey,

This is probably out of your control. Teens break up and go on. Sometimes when they go off to college they find other interests and other people. Your daughter could get hurt if she is not the one to break it off but it could be the other way around. It sounds like you are the one who feels insecure because of the differences in your income level. Your only option is to let your daughter make her own choices and support her if she gets hurt.

Not Smart Enough To Drive

Dear Sara,

My son is sixteen now and wants his driver’s learning permit. He is just barely passing in all his classes so I told him if he raised his grades to a C I would let him get a permit. He said he is not lazy, he just isn’t smart enough. What do you think?

Dear David,

Maybe there are some things to check out. How has he done in school in the past? If his grades were average before then he might be slacking off. You need to find out what is going on now so you can figure out how to help him.
It would be a good idea to talk to his teachers and see what they think. They will be able to give you some idea if there is a problem or not. You could also have your son tested to see what his IQ is. Once you have all the facts then you can make your decision. If he really can’t keep up, get some help for him. If he’s goofing off, stick to your decision and don’t let him get his permit until his grades improve.

Finding The Line With Teens

Dear Sara,

I have two teens seventeen and fourteen. I have bee trying to set curfews for them but they are always trying to talk me into something later. They say I am too strict and their friends have more freedom. I just want to keep them safe. What can I do? I don’t want them to run wild.

Dear Becky,

It’s normal for kids to object to their curfew but you are right, you can’t just let them run wild. When I was a teen my curfew was midnight on the weekends but flexible for occasions when I had a specific event that ended later. Your fourteen year old will have less freedom than your seventeen-year-old but she also needs flexibility. You just can’t let them take over and do what they want or they will be telling you what they are going to do and you won’t have any say about it. As long as they are living with you they are your responsibility. It doesn’t really matter what their friends are doing. Do what you think is right.

Bratty Best Friend

Dear Sara,

I hate to say it but my daughter’s best friend is a brat. They are both eight years old and she lives within walking distance of our house. She’s over here most weekends. If I tell her to do something, she says I can’t tell her what to do. She helps herself to food and if there is loose change around she will take it. This has been going on about six weeks and I don’t want her over here. I know that my daughter will be upset if I won’t let her friend come to our house. How should I handle this?

Dear Lauren,

It sounds like this child hasn’t had much parenting. In your home, you can certainly tell her what to do and if she doesn’t like it she should go home. She apparently likes coming to your house since she shows up every weekend so let her know what your rules are and if she doesn’t follow them then she will be sent home. Maybe you could have a good influence on her since she doesn’t seem to have discipline at home. If this doesn’t work your daughter will see that it’s her friend’s fault for not following the rules.

Overwhelmed Kids

Dear Sara,

My daughter has a very busy life. She plays soccer, works on the weekends and has always been an A student. The past three months she’s become cranky, her grades have dropped and she’s always tired, especially in the mornings before school. I was worried about drugs so I asked for a drug test when she went for her physical and it came back negative, thank God. She said she feels bad about her attitude but she feels frustrated because she has so much to do. I tried to get her to slow down but she feels like she has to do everything. What can I do to help her?

Dear Allison,

Some of your daughter’s problem may be due to lack of sleep. She probably needs eight and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep at night. Her problem with grades may be that she is too tired to pay attention. Kids get in the habit of staying up late and want to wake up later and she can’t because of school and her job. She probably needs to scale back her busy schedule. School work and getting enough sleep are a priority. She needs to try to get into a routine where she goes to bed on a regular schedule and gets up at the same time every day. Kids love their caffeinated drinks so it would be good if she could avoid caffeine in the afternoon and before bedtime. When she starts feeling better she’ll realize that she needs these changes.

Worried About Choking Hazards

Dear Sara,

I have a two-year-old. I am worried about her choking. A friends child choked on a dry bean he found on the floor and now I am having a lot of anxiety about everything. I know that finding something on the floor could happen any time but what else do I need to look for?

Dear Liz,

Two-year-olds have lots of energy and want to explore everything and the first thing they do is stick their find in their mouth. Be careful with things like hard candy as well. A two-year-old could suck something like this down their throat. Just be vigilant and if you see your child chewing on something that you don’t know about, run your finger around his or her mouth and check it out.

You can take a paper towel tube and if the toy can fit inside the tube without being compressed then it’s a choking hazard and should be kept away from your two-year-old. Also if you think the toy might break into small parts throw it away or don’t buy it. Choose toys with labels that give age and safety recommendations. Keep older children’s toys away from younger kids and select toys appropriate for your two-year-old. Kids will surprise you with what they can find that will go in their mouth.

Making Children Get Along

Dear Sara,

I have twins, a boy and a girl, age twelve. They used to get along but now all they do is fight. They were always so close but now they’re constantly teasing, hitting or yelling at each other. He pinches her and tries to get her attention when she’s talking on the phone to her friends and he or she’s always kicking him for no reason. I’m really getting tired of trying to keep the peace between them. What’s the best way to handle their picking at each other? Any ideas?

Dear Hannah,

As twins, your kids have been dependent on each other for a long time. They are at an age where it’s time to separate so they have to learn to get along in different ways now. Try not to get involved in their disputes unless things get physical, so they can learn to solve their problems on their own. Try to treat them as individuals and encourage separate activities. Listen to their problems and let them air their frustrations. As they get older things will get better and they will be friends again but not so dependant on each other.

Co-Parenting With Differing Opinions

Dear Sara,

My ex-husband is an outdoorsman. He loves to camp and hike and fish. He wants to take our six and eight-year-old hiking and camping this summer for a week. I really think they are too young for this kind of activity and will probably get hurt. I have been on some of his excursions and they are definitely not for kids this young. He has said that he gets a week in the summer with them and he will do what he wants. How should I handle this?

Dear Kara,

It sounds like your ex is biting off more than he can chew. If the kids get tired they are not going to want to keep on going. They will cry and whine and he will be really frustrated. He doesn’t seem to know what is age appropriate for them. See if you can get him to go to their pediatrician with you and the kids and have the pediatrician decide what the kids are capable of doing. If he won’t do this then ask him if he can do more camping and keep the hiking to something the kids can enjoy. I’m sure the kids will enjoy having their Dad to themselves for a week.

Child’s First Tattoo

Dear Sara,

My daughter is seventeen and has a part-time job so she’s fairly independent. She’s also trustworthy and hasn’t been in any trouble. She has decided she wants a tattoo. I have been trying to talk her out of it without much success. Is there anything I can say that will discourage her?

Dear Max,

There are teens who will get the tattoo first and tell their parents about it after so your daughter seems like a responsible girl. Tattoos are a fad and may not be in style in a few years so when they become unpopular your daughter will still have her tattoo. They can be removed but it can be costly. If you can’t talk her out of a tattoo you might suggest that she give some thought to the location. If tattoos go out of style she might want it in a hidden place.

Good luck,