Angry 17 Year Old

Dear Sara,

My seventeen-year-old son is angry at everybody. I can’t figure out why he is so angry. He stays in his room most of the time when he is not in school and may or may not come down to eat dinner. He has gotten into fights at school three times and was suspended each time for three days. His grades are barely passing. If he talks to me at all it’s with a lot of attitude. I can’t get him to talk to me enough to even figure out what’s wrong. This has been going on for over a year now. How can I get him to tell me what’s wrong?

Dear Nell,

There probably is a reason for your son’s anger and apparently, he’s not willing to talk to you or anybody else and it’s eating him up inside. He really needs to let all of this out in a safe place. Ask your family physician to refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist for your son. I hope your son can accept this help so he can deal with whatever is bothering him.

Child With A Cleft Palate

Dear Sara,

I have a two-month-old baby who was born with a cleft palate. I am having trouble bonding with him. In my head, I know that it’s not his fault and we can have this repaired but I have trouble looking at him and talking to him like I did my other two babies. How can I get past this and be a normal Mom?

Dear Rachel,

This baby needs you. Even if you don’t feel toward him as you did your other babies, make the effort to give him the love and attention that you gave your other two babies. What has happened to him isn’t his fault and he needs his Mom. Cleft palate is a fairly common birth defect and can be corrected so your baby will have normal function and appearance. He may have problems with feeding, some ear infections and maybe hearing loss. Usually, a baby can have his lip repaired at four to six months and the palate repaired at twelve months. You might want to see a surgeon who specializes in cleft surgical management.

You won’t be sorry if you make this special effort to be a good Mom.

Pregnant Step-Daughter

Hi Sara,

I have a pregnant step-daughter, twenty, who is due around the first week of October. She moved in with us one year this past July and has caused nothing but trouble and drama for us. No job, too lazy to get out of bed to work. It’s a task for her to even get dressed for the day. It was also the same before she was “prego”. The boyfriend she has also had no job does drugs and has already been into rehab for drinking. Oh my, oh my. I am at my wit’s end and so is her Dad. We have a little boy (7) and I feel she is jealous of “our little family.” It’s almost like she is jealous of him and us being happy in general.

Her Dad works away six weeks at a time, then he’s home for twelve days and then has to go again another six weeks, etc. He is at the point that when he gets back, he’s putting her into another apartment, even if he has to pay for it himself. Her Mom is in another province, divorced from her second husband and living with a guy approximately fifteen years younger than her. That’s why the daughter had moved in with us in the first place.
I feel that putting her into an apartment (she’s on Income Support)would make everyone happier and at peace. No matter what you do for her it’s not enough. She caused so much trouble last week that I almost took my son and moved out. Any advice?

Dear Cicely,

You and your husband seem to agree that she needs to move out. This might be a good idea since she seems way to dependent on having someone else take care of her. It would probably be best if you moved her out before the baby gets here. She may not be much help now in moving but she will be less help if she has a baby to contend with as well. If she stays in your home after the baby comes, she could make you may be responsible for caring for the baby. It will be good for her to be on her own and independent anyway. It appears that she has taken advantage of you and made problems in your family but try not to abandon her totally. She still needs someone to care about her and watch over her and the baby. You can be a blessing and a role model in her life for a while. If she disrespects you or doesn’t appreciate what you do then you may have to give up.

Bringing Son Back Home From Foster Care

Dear Sara,

Hey there. I was raised in foster care. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. I’m a Mom of two of my own now and my boyfriend left last year. I have my youngest son living with me and my oldest is almost seven and in foster care. He has adjustment disorder and I find it sometimes hard to cope. I’m taking two parenting classes right now and I’m fighting to get him home. Are there any things I can do to cope with the stress of it all?

Dear Sophia,

I am so proud of you for taking parenting classes. This will benefit you and your son since you may not have had good role models in foster care. You do need ways to relieve stress so you can cope with things calmly. Your son will probably do better in an environment that is stress-free. It could help to have someone else to talk to and vent some of the things you are feeling. You could find a therapist to talk to but it could also help to have two or three friends to hang out and talk to who have kids too. Don’t make your sessions with your friends a pity pot. Take some time to laugh and joke with them as well.

Exercise is a good stress reliever. If you can’t afford a gym, walking is a great exercise. Your kids need to get out and away from the TV as well. See if you can get them out for a walk two or three times a week.

Son Is Being Bullied

Dear Sara,

I am pretty sure that my ten-year-old son is being bullied at school. He’s rather shy and doesn’t seem to make friends easily. He seems to prefer books and playing on the computer. He told me that several boys had harassed him by pushing him back and forth in the hall at school and calling him “stupid kid.” I don’t want to make things worse but I want these boys to stop making fun of my son. How should I handle this?

Dear Rebecca,

There should be zero tolerance for bullying in schools and forty-three states have laws to deal with this. Your first line of defense for your son is to let his principal, teacher and school counselor know what’s going on. He shouldn’t have to deal with this alone at school. Let his principal know who the bullies are, what’s happening and how it’s happening. Be assertive and let them know you expect it to stop and that there will be consequences for the bullies.

Being bullied can have long-lasting effects. Be supportive of your son and let him know that bullies tend to pick someone they perceive as weaker in some way than themselves. Your son could probably benefit from a self-defense class like tai-kwon-do to build his confidence and help him be more self-assured.
Good luck.

Disappointing Our Children

Dear Sara,

My son is twelve and has had the same friends through most of his grade school years. They were on the basketball team together. They are all talking about which high school they want and the other boys have decided on a private school nearby. My son wants to go there too but my husband has been very sick and our finances are very tight. I hate to disappoint my son but don’t know what else to do.

Dear Grace,

I’m sure your son is aware of the family financial problems so he probably won’t be too disappointed when he can’t go to the private school with his friends. Most high schools have basketball teams that he could try out for and he would be a part of that team. The other option might be to contact the private school and see if there are any scholarships available. You could explain the financial situation to them and see if they could help. If it doesn’t work out at least you tried. Sometimes kids don’t get the things they want but usually, they can adjust and make the best of it.

Good luck.

Boyfriend With Anger Issues

Dear Sara,

My daughter is fifteen and is dating a boy who seems to have some anger management issues. She is totally infatuated with him and it seems like he is controlling her. She denies that he has hit her but she has come home from a date with him with a red mark on her face and I have noticed bruises on her arms. I want to protect her but I also want her to independent. How can I help her?

Dear Ava,

At age fifteen you still have some control over your daughter. She is not old enough to realize that this relationship is sick. She will be angry but in her best interest, you should keep her from seeing this boy again. She will be very upset and probably try to see him anyway. It sounds like she might need to see a therapist who has experience in domestic violence for a while so she can vent her anger at you and discuss her willingness to be physically abused.

Husband “Needs His Freedom”

Dear Sara,

My husband has decided he doesn’t want to be married anymore. He said, “he needs his freedom.” We have three kids under the age of eight. He is still paying the bills and has seen a lawyer. I love my kids but I feel like he just dumped everything on me and went on his merry way. I don’t have enough money for anything but necessities. I feel helpless and alone. What should I do?

Dear Jennifer,

You need your own lawyer. Ask friends and family if they know a good lawyer who would help you get through this. If your husband wants to leave then he should give you enough money to live on and then some. It’s not all about him. It’s time to think about what kind of future you want. Do you want to go back to school? Would you eventually want some kind of job? Don’t let your husband dump on you and just sit there and take it.

Stopping The Cycle Of Abuse

Dear Sara,

My father sexually abused me when I was between eight and twelve years old. He told me he loved me and gave me lots of presents and made me promise not to tell. I knew it was wrong but I loved my Dad. I felt angry and ashamed at the same time. Eventually, I forgave him so I could get on with my life. I have two girls now ages six and eight and I am really concerned that my Dad could molest them. I watch him constantly when they are together. What’s the best way to protect them?

Dear Jessica,

You are off to a good start in that you are being vigilant when your father is around. You could also warn your girls that it’s not OK for anyone to touch them in their private places and that they should tell you right away if someone touches them in any way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Your next step would be to have a private talk with your father. Let him know that his acts against you were criminal offenses and if he touches either of your daughters or any other child that you know of that you will have him prosecuted for his sexual abuse of you. People are reluctant to prosecute their family members because they don’t want to cause trouble or are ashamed. Even if you have forgiven your father his actions will still have an effect on you for the rest of your life. You didn’t do anything wrong. You were a trusting child and he was a child molester. Do whatever you feel necessary to protect your girls including keeping them away from their grandfather.

Differing Styles Of Parenting

Dear Sara,

My style of parenting is totally different from my husband. He is easy going and doesn’t care if the kids do what they want. I want some order and structure and insist that our kids follow the rules. They are now old enough to go to him if they don’t like the rules and he will tell them everything is OK and they can do what they want. I am now the bad guy and my husband is the good guy. I am angry and frustrated. How can I get him to stop doing this?

Dear Elena,

You and your husband need to have a discussion someplace where your kids can’t hear you and are not involved. Maybe he feels that you are too strict with the kids and feels that he has to defend them. Since you are angry and frustrated try to stay calm. Write down the rules and how you feel they are important and see if you and he can come to some compromise. It’s really important that the two of you be on the same page. This taking sides with the children not only undermines your authority but sets the kids up to play you and your husband against each other. It sounds like you and your husband come from families that had different sets of rules. If you think your husband is being passive aggressive or trying to win favor with the children at your expense then be sure to seek some marriage counseling. This isn’t healthy for your children.