My Heart Belong To Someone Else

Dear Sara,

I have been dating a man for about a year. He’s a great man and we are best friends. We each have teen daughters who get along well together. He has proposed but for some reason I am not able to give him an answer and I think it’s because I still have feelings for my daughter’s father. I was sixteen years old when I got pregnant and we never married. He moved away and I haven’t seen him for at least fifteen years but I still think about him. Should I marry this great guy when I’m not sure about my feelings are for another man?
-Casey




Dear Casey

After ten years the man you loved enough to bear his child has probably gotten on with his life. There must have been some reason that you broke up with him. If you hang on to this fantasy you could mess up a really good relationship.Try to imagine your life without your best friend because this is what you would be giving up if you could return to your old flame. You could contact him and see how it feels but you could endanger your current relationship. Is this important enough to you to do this? Only you can decide.
-Sara

Kids Addicted To Technology

Dear Sara,

My twelve-year-old son spends most of his free time on the computer playing games. He gets upset and angry when I try to interfere. I know that this is not good for him but I don’t know how to limit his time on the computer. What should I do? His Dad isn’t in the picture anymore so I am trying to parent by myself.
-Meredith




Dear Meredith,

At age twelve your son has figured out that if he gets angry and stubborn that you will back down and he can have his way. With no male authority figure to back you up, you are fighting an uphill battle. You are right in saying this is not good for your son. He is losing valuable time when he should be socializing or doing his school work. He is not dealing with the real world but a virtual world.

You may have to use some rewards and consequences. The stick and the carrot method. Probably the only consequence that you can use right now is to take away his equipment and reward him by giving it back when he agrees to something else besides play on his computer.

So the first thing you and he have to decide is what else he might be interested in. He might not be interested in traditional sports but maybe he would be willing to try something like martial arts. Try to get him to agree to some activity for an hour or two a week. He needs a more balanced life.
-Sara

Four-year-old Son Has Started Stuttering

Dear Sara,

My four-year-old son has started stuttering. It gets worse when he’s tired and cranky. Apparently a grandfather on his Dad’s side had a stuttering problem all of his life. I don’t want this to happen to my son. Is there treatment available? Is he going to be affected his whole life?
-Sylvia




Dear Sylvia,

Children often outgrow stuttering. What you need to keep in mind for now is the your son doesn’t need any pressure. If you can provide a relaxed environment and give him plenty of time to complete his sentences he will be less apt to stutter. Try not to demand perfection or act negatively when he stutters.

Some kids outgrow their stuttering so you may want to wait three to six month to have your son evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. With your patience and some time it’s possible that his stuttering could clear up on its own. Boys are more likely to have stuttering problems than girls and stuttering is a speech problem rather than an emotional or psychological problem.

I hope this clears up on its own but seek treatment if it doesn’t.
-Sara

Granddaughter’s Attachment Issues

Dear Sara,

I have an eighteen-month-old granddaughter whose parents work hectic hours. This baby has been left with a caregiver who she is not happy with. She is very insecure and demanding. Now the parents have brought another caregiver in. Would it not be in the best interests of the child to help her get over her insecurities to have her mother at home at least a year? When the parents come home this little girl will not let them put her down.
-Anne




Dear Anne,

You are right in thinking that the best person to raise a child is their own parent. However, things are not the way they used to be back in the ’40s and ’50s. Women have found that they can be more independent if they bring in an income and families are far better off financially with two incomes. Also to consider is the fact that when a woman takes time off to raise a child she loses out because her skills become obsolete or less marketable. It also takes some adjustment to gear down from a work world, with interesting adults to talk to, to a Mommy with an eighteen-month-old baby to talk to.

Eighteen months is an age where kids are adjusting to the world around them. They are busy learning to walk and talk and figure out how things work. One of the things they learn is how to get attention. Kids will gradually adjust to parents’ work schedule. Your granddaughter could really benefit from spending time with you so give her as much time as you can. You are one of the people in the world who will love her as much as her parents will.
-Sara

How To Get Kids To Sleep In Their Own Bed

Dear Sara,

My four-year-old son has been sleeping in my bed since he was born. I breastfed and this was easier for me. I think it’s time for him to sleep in his own bed but he really pitches a tantrum when I insist. What’s the best way to get him to sleep in his own bed?
-Donna




Dear Donna,

Think of this from your son’s point of view. He has a secure nest from the day he was born and now you are asking him to give it up. Maybe you will have to take things gradually. You might try sleeping in his “big boy” bed with him for a week or so, letting him know that “big boys” sleep in their own beds. After that try going back to your own bed after he’s asleep. If he wakes up and comes back to your bed, just go back with him and finish the night in his bed. Give him lots of praise when he can finally spend the whole night by himself. This might take several weeks but he will eventually get used to being by himself. Lots of children have a favorite blanket, stuffed animal or toy to take to bed with them. You may have been your son’s “security blanket.” Just give him plenty of time to feel secure on his own.
-Sara

I Need Help With My Disrespectful Children

Dear Sara,

My two children ages seven and eleven are becoming very disrespectful. They call me names and defy my authority. I don’t know how to go about changing their behavior. My husband just laughs and thinks it’s funny. He’s not around enough to see how bad they really are. What can I do to stop this behavior?
-Fran




Dear Fran,

Respect begets respect. If you speak respectfully to your children they will learn respect. Where are they learning this type of behavior? Has another adult in the family been calling you or the children’s names? These are examples that your children might follow. Please tell yourself that you are worthy of respect and as a parent, you will expect it. This is a time to use consequences for these behaviors. You have control over the things that they enjoy. You can take away things like their TV, telephone or computer privileges. Let them know ahead of time that you will give a consequence for any more disrespect. They will be very unhappy but be consistent. They need to learn that you mean business.
-Sara

I’m A Father Looking For A Second Chance

Dear Sara,

I have been an alcoholic since I was in my teens. It has been getting progressively worse over the years. I have been a mean abusive father to my children ages now eleven and fourteen. I am truly sorry for that. I would like to earn back their love and trust but they don’t want to have anything to do with me. I am in AA now (for the second time) and have just gotten my one year token. I have a sponsor and I’m working on my twelve steps. I really want a relationship with my kids now. What can I do?
-Larry




Dear Larry,

There is no magic answer. What you have done you can’t undo and trust has to be earned. If you were drinking and abusive for a long time don’t expect the kids to accept you in less time. Talk to their mother to see if you can help out in small ways. Let her know that you will help out in any way that you can.

Children that age need lots of transportation to their different activities. As long as you stay sober you can help out with that. Don’t try to be their best buddy, just listen if they want to talk. Try really hard to be there for them when they need you. If they lash out at you, just apologize with all your heart. You know by now that you just have to take one day at a time. I wish you luck with your kids.
-Sara

Protecting My Son From Pornography

Dear Sara,

I found some really graphic sex magazines under the bed in my twelve-year-old son’s room. I was really shocked that he would have something like this. I haven’t confronted him yet and don’t really know how to handle this. I don’t want this kind of thing in my home. Should I confront him or just let it go?
-Andrea




Dear Andrea,

Apparently you feel pretty strongly about this. These types of magazines are demeaning to women because they portray them as sex objects and you want a healthier outlook for your son. Your son, however, has a natural curiosity about how women look without their clothes on and how the female body works. He may not feel safe about this so he is trying to find out on his own.

Since you feel strongly about this sort of material, as a parent you can confront your son and let him know that you realize that he is curious but that the material that he has chosen is inappropriate and that you don’t want him to get a wrong idea about women. He is still going to have that natural curiosity that needs to be satisfied. Go to the bookstore and find some books with a healthier outlook.

Good luck,
-Sara

I’m A Dad Pretending To Be Straight

Dear Sara,

I have been married for ten years and have two boys ages nine and seven. I am gay and I have known it all along but thought that getting married and having a family was the right thing to do. I have been faithful to my wife but our relationship is strained because I am not interested in her physically. She keeps asking me what is wrong. I love my boys and don’t want to upset them but it’s getting harder and harder to keep up the pretense. What’s the best thing for me to do?
-Ben




Dear Ben,

It sounds like your wife isn’t really happy either. Maybe it’s time to have a heart to heart talk with her to let her know your true identity. It’s not fair to her to let her believe that she’s not worthy of your love when in fact you would not be interested in any other woman. I am glad that you have been faithful since you have given her at least that much of you.

If you and your wife decide on divorce, it will be difficult for your kids. Give them all the time and attention that they need.
-Sara

When Moving On Is Hard To Do

Dear Sara,

I wanted your advice about my situation of feeling all alone and don’t know how to move on. I was married to my now ex-husband for ten years. He all of a sudden started seeing a co-worker nine years younger than him and married also. He told me on a Friday that he was leaving on Sunday. This devastated me. He had been a stepdad to both my children since they were four and eleven. He didn’t even tell my son bye.

I had lost my parents five weeks apart unexpectedly just three years before this happened. We have been divorced since December 2017. There was no closure and I don’t know why he left us and it’s like I can’t get past the hurt and have no interest in leaving the house or doing anything. Any advice on how to move on? I don’t have any friends that I talk to because I invested all my time with my family.

Life has come to a stop for me it seems like. Please tell me how you just stop loving someone you have been with for twelve years. Any good advice on how to make the pain stop. It has affected my son who is now seventeen tremendously and he blames me for the divorce. He says I make him leave when I stood by this man through all him mental and anger issues. Any good advice on how to make the pain stop and feeling like I have no one in the world to turn to? I would appreciate any advice you might have for me. I would like my name to be anonymous, please.
Thank you.
-Anon




Dear Anon,

You have been living with this pain for three years. I this man truly worth this? You said you put up with his mental and anger issues so must not have been that perfect. Sounds like this guy did you a big favor. He left your life in a really hurtful way but it may be something that needed to happen. It’s sad that your son is so attached to him but maybe he will eventually see that it isn’t your fault.
I know personally how devastating it is to lose your parents in a short period of time. You have my deepest sympathy.

All you can do is pick up the pieces and go on. Take care of yourself physically and mentally. It sounds like you are depressed. If you can’t get over this by yourself you might want to see someone at your local mental health center.

In order to put your life back together, you need a plan. Write down any and everything you can think of an see what comes to your mind. Maybe you can see where your life needs to be.

Good luck.
-Sara