Single Mom Needs To Socialize

Dear Sara,

I’m a single Mom with two kids ages four and six. I work and leave them in daycare during the day but never seem to get a break to socialize. My ex might (or might not) take them for one Sunday a month. He is good about paying his child support but can’t be bothered with our kids. I need to have a break from the responsibilities once and a while but babysitters are too expensive and my parents live in another state. I need to get out once in a while. How can I manage to do this?
-Ginger




Dear Ginger,

It is difficult to raise your kids without a support system. One thing you might consider is moving closer to your family. This could mean that your ex has less access to his children but it appears that he isn’t willing or interested in being a hands on father. Your kids need someone other than their Mom in their life who care about and love them.

Another option is to find someone in the same situation who would be willing to trade baby sitting services with you. It could be difficult caring for someone else’s children (for a time period determined by you both) but that might give you a night out or a weekend to do something fun. Ask around to see if anyone might be interested. You will want to be careful and check things out. If you don’t smoke, do they? Do you think their house is safe? Are they responsible with their own kids?

One other thing you could check out is the churches in your area. Sometimes they will have a “mother’s day out” program where you can leave your kids for a few hours. I hope you find something really helpful soon.
-Sara

Terrible Twos

Dear Sara,

My son started walking at age 18 months. He’s two now and he hasn’t stopped since except to sleep. He goes from one thing to another pulling things out of drawers and cabinets and putting anything that fits into his mouth. If I need to go to the bathroom I put him in his crib and he screams and cries the entire time. I have put away anything breakable but he still finds things to get into. I am worried that he will eventually get hurt. How can I keep him safe?
-Liane




Dear Liane,

Your son sounds like a very bright boy who wants to know about everything. I hope you have safety proofed your house with things like covers for electric outlets and latches for your kitchen cabinets.

He probably needs at least one room where you can put gates on the doors that is completely child proof. If he has a box full of toys there where he can pull things out and play with a short time, this might keep him busy for a while. If you change things in the box from time to time it may keep him interested. If he wants to be in the kitchen with you then keep things in cabinets or drawers at his level stocked with things that he can’t get hurt on.

If he’s that busy you might want to use a harness when you take him out to the park or for a walk. Kids that age can be really impulsive. They are so cute at that age but they can be really tiring.

Good luck.
-Sara

Moving On After Spouse’s Death

Dear Sara,

I’ve been a widow for four years now. My husband Ron was killed in a hunting accident. My youngest son was three and my older son was four when he died. We still talk about their Dad. They are in school now and I have a job. I am lonely and have been asked out on dates several times. I hesitate accepting because I don’t want to upset my boys. I will be 29 soon and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life without a partner. What can I do to try to have a life of my own but still keep my boys safe and happy?
-Connie




Dear Connie,

I am so sorry for your loss. It’s good that you talk to the boys about their Dad. I hope you all have some fun things to remember. You might start by preparing them little by little that someday you might want to have some other man in your family’s life. Don’t make a big deal out it, just present the idea to them. They probably haven’t thought about this possibility. Answer the inevitable questions the best you can.

If you want to date someone, you might think about meeting him somewhere else until things become serious. It might not be a good idea to have a series of men for your boys to meet. Take your time and try to find someone who likes kids. Your boys will be in your home for a long time and in your life for as long as you live. I hope you can find someone who fits into your family. Just take things slowly.
-Sara

Verbally Abusive Child

Dear Sara,

I am at my wits end. My daughter is twenty years old and still living at home. She can’t drive right now because she got caught drinking and driving so I have to take her to her job. She can be verbally abusive to me and sometimes when she gets angry she throws things. She has a boyfriend but she isn’t very nice to him either. I don’t know what her problem is but I also don’t know how much longer I can live like this. What should I do?
-Fern





Dear Fern,

Sometimes when kids get to be a certain age they really want to leave home but don’t know if they are capable of taking care of themselves. Their unhappiness may come out as anger toward their parents. She could be trying to make you the bad guy for putting her out.

She could also be having some mental health issues that she is trying to medicate with alcohol. Why don’t you try to get her to a doctor for a checkup. Maybe there are some things that she could share with him or her that she wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with you. If she continues to verbally or physically abusive to you maybe it’s time for her to leave.

Good luck.
Sara

Telling Children The Truth

Dear Sara,

I adopted a baby girl when she was six months old. She has always known that she was adopted. She is now twelve and wants to know about her birth parents. It’s not a pretty story. The birth mother was about fifteen, running the streets, prostituting herself and ended up in juvenile court for breaking into houses and stealing things. She didn’t know who the father of her baby was and didn’t want a baby. I feel fortunate to have this beautiful daughter and love her very much. How do I tell her about this background?
-Whitney




Dear Whitney,

You first have to decide how much she is ready to hear. In this day and age twelve year olds aren’t really naive as they used to be. If she has seen movies like “Precious” then she might be able to understand that not everyone has a perfect home and do their best just to survive. If you think she will understand and not be upset then go on and tell her the truth.

On the other hand if you think she will be upset and think less of herself, you might want to minimize the truth and wait awhile for the whole truth. Don’t lie to her because she will eventually find out. Just answer questions that she asks as well as you can. Let her know how much you love her and how glad you were when she came into your life.
-Sara

Putting Off College

Dear Sara,

My daughter is nineteen and is about to finish up her first year of college. She recently became engaged and wants to get married. She plans to go to college after she marries. Her husband to be has a good job and she thinks that it will be OK with him if she continues her education. I am really worried that she will quit school and have babies. How can I convince her otherwise?
-Francie




Dear Francie,

Girls this age can be really naive. Does she realize that about 50% of marriages end in divorce? She might need to help support herself and her children if there is a divorce. It’s hard to finance two households on one salary. Her ability to get a good job may depend on how much education she has. If she is determined to get married there probably is no way to change her mind. Having a supportive mother may be really important to her later.
Good luck.
-Sara

Masturbation Concerns

Dear Sara,

I have a beautiful daughter Haley who is almost three. She is potty trained but still wears a diaper at night. During the day she has her hand in her underwear a lot. She will sit in the backyard and appears to be playing with herself. This is somewhat embarrassing to me. When I see her doing this I try to make her stop by distracting her but she goes back to it later. How can I get her to stop doing this?
-Brittany




Dear Brittany,

Your plan of distracting her is a good one. She doesn’t need to feel that she is doing something wrong by doing this. Maybe she has just discovered something that feels good but there could be other things to consider.

If she has a urinary tract infection, she might be itching in that area. If you haven’t taken her to the pediatrician lately, she needs to be checked out to make sure there aren’t any vaginal or urinary tract problems.

The other thing you might want to consider is sexual abuse. It is hard to believe that someone that you know and trust could do something like this but sexual abuse is often perpetrated by a friend or family member. Haley may be able to tell you if something like this is going on if she has the verbal ability. If not, keep a watchful eye on her. Sometimes sexual abuse goes on for years and causes a lot of emotional problems for the victim. I hope you find the cause soon.
-Sara

Overwhelmed Mother

Dear Sara,

I am feeling overwhelmed at this point in my life. I have four kids and the youngest has had leukemia. He seems to be responding to medication and things look pretty good right now. My other three want to be in baseball, basketball and ballet plus other school related activities so I feel tired all of the time trying to keep up. My husband is no help as he works in a very demanding job. I feel guilty for wanting a break. What can I do to just have one day off?
-Liane




Dear Liane,

Look around you for some help. Do you have a Mom or a sister who could take care of things for maybe a half day each week? Maybe some of the other Mom’s in your kids activities could take over for a while with transportation. You need a few hours to yourself so that you can have a cup of coffee and read your book or just watch TV.

Your kids need you but they also need for you to be healthy. Visit your doctor and get a checkup. Your stress level seems pretty high and if you don’t take care of yourself and have some kind of breakdown then your kids would have to do without you. Let your husband know what you are going through. Maybe he could figure out a way to help. You are an important person in your family.

Good luck.
-Sara

Sexually Active 13 Year Old

Dear Sara,

My thirteen year old daughter came to me complaining of a severe vaginal itch. I took her to my gynecologist for an exam and found out she has a sexually transmitted disease. I was shocked. She is not allowed to date yet. She was crying but told me she went with a boy to his car during half time at a ball game. Luckily her pregnancy test came back negative. She isn’t allowed to go anywhere without myself or my husband for now. How can I protect her from doing something like this again?
-Evie





Dear Evie,

It may be too late for sex education. Your daughter already knows about what happens when you have unprotected sex. She needs to learn how to make good choices. Try to find out her views on sex and love and how much she already knows. Thirteen year old girls often think they know more than they do and often mistake sexual attraction for love.

Cover as many bases as you can. She needs to know about things like safe sex, condoms and the various sexually transmitted diseases. She also needs to know about what her life would be like if she got pregnant at her age (which was possible when she had sex with this boy). She could also get the reputation as “easy” if the boy brags about his conquest. Also let her know what your values are.

Additionally, her partner will need to be treated for the STD so she needs to contact him as well. You can let her tell him or you can contact his parents. He apparently was with someone else before your daughter. You can only protect her for so long. You can let her know how you feel about this and make her aware of the consequences and hope that she will make better choices in the future.
-Sara

Struggling With Feelings For Son’s Teacher

Dear Sara,

I know you are going to think I am crazy but I am in love for the first time. I married my husband out of convenience and did not love him. He is a very nice, kind man and I am fond of him. We have four kids ages eight to fourteen. The man that I want to be with teaches my oldest son and I have been to all of the parent-teacher conferences. We get along so well. He is handsome and funny and I can see what a wonderful life we could have together. I think he feels the same way I do but he hasn’t said anything. I don’t know if I should tell my husband about this or my son’s teacher first. I don’t want to hurt my children by disrupting their lives so I am very confused right now. What do you think about all this?
-Cheryl





Dear Cheryl,

You do sound very confused. A lot of women would envy you for having a kind husband. You really don’t have any idea how your son’s teacher feels about you so you could be putting your stable marriage in jeopardy for nothing. I would guess that part of a teacher’s job is being nice to his student’s parents, so you could be mistaking his interest in you as a parent as flirting.

You still have fairly young kids and a stable home life is very important to them. The best thing to do would be to wait a while and do nothing until you can get a clearer picture. In the meantime why don’t you see a therapist so that you can have someone to talk to about your feelings of love for this teacher and dissatisfaction with your marriage. Take your time and don’t rush into anything.
-Sara