Where can I find other Moms like me?

Dear Sara,

I am a new Mom. I had my son Jacob three months ago. I decided to stay home with him until he starts to go to school. I am enjoying staying home with him and love taking care of him but I am lonely being by myself all day. There doesn’t seem to be any other mothers like me in the neighborhood. Where can I find someone to talk to and hang out with?

Michelle

Dear Michelle,

I’m so glad that you have the opportunity to stay home with Jacob. Nobody can provide that love and attention that you can. He’s a lucky little guy to have a full time Mom. Not every Mom has this luxury.

One thing that you can do is walk Jacob in his stroller. If there is a park nearby, you may find other mothers congregating there. Getting out and walking will also be good for you and Jacob.

You might also try the churches in your neighborhood. Even if you are not a member they may have a group for new Moms and may let you join. Churches often try to provide this kind of support for their members.

See if you can find a baby sitter and get out once or twice a week to have some time to yourself. You could join a gym or find a volunteer job just to keep you from being so isolated. It will be hard to stay home for a long time if you have no one to socialize with.

Sara

How can I get my baby to eat?

Dear Sara,

I have an 18 month old daughter, Molly. I am having a terrible time getting her to eat. Sometimes she will only eat one thing. She seems more interested in playing with her food. She seems healthy but I feel like she is not getting the proper nutrition. How can I get her to eat more?

Margie

Dear Margie,

You have to remember that Molly’s stomach is tiny and fills up really fast. Children at that age like finger foods and over a period of time will choose a variety of foods. One day they will eat peas and the next they will drop them on the floor.

You can pull her highchair up to the table at dinner time so that she can join with the family for a social time. Let her experiment with different foods (cut up small) that you prepare for the family. Don’t insist that she eat any of it and if she rejects what you offer, just take it away. Make sure she doesn’t get sweets to fill up on between meals. It will be easier to get her to eat a healthy diet if she’s not offered junk food.

Discuss her diet with her pediatrician. He may feel that Molly need a children’s vitamin supplement. If she is still taking a bottle she may be getting enough calories and just not need more food. You can start cutting back on the bottle and offer juice and milk from a sippy cup. It’s very normal toddlers to be picky about their food. Your best bet is to only offer healthy foods for Molly to choose from while she is in this stage.

Sara

How do I get my son to grow up and be independent?

Dear Sara,

My son has graduated from college and is still living at home. He has a degree in History and says that he can’t find a job. I don’t think he is really looking very hard at this point. He sleeps until about 11:00AM, plays video games during the day and hangs out with his friends at night. He has cut a few of the neighbors yards this summer for spending money. I am still cooking his meals and doing his laundry. I am ready for him to “launch.” How can I get him to take care of himself and move out?

Nora

Dear Nora,

You are definitely making it easy for your son to continue being dependent on you. He needs a little motivation to move on. Why don’t you consider giving him a time limit to move out. Let him know that he can’t live with you indefinitely and that you expect him to have some kind of job within the month even if it is delivering newspapers or in a fast food restaurant. You don’t have to do his laundry. Teach him how to do his own.

Don’t pay any of his bills or give him any money. The only way he will move on with his life is if he has no one to depend on but himself. You aren’t doing him any favors by helping him be dependent.

Good luck.

Sara

How can a father be OK with verbally abusing his son?

Dear Sara,

My husband is very verbally abusive to our twelve year old son. He calls him names and puts him down. If they are in the yard the whole neighborhood hears it. How can I make my husband see what he is doing?

Heidi

Dear Heidi,

It’s possible that your husband learned this behavior from his father. He may consider this normal. You are right to be concerned because your son’s image of himself is going to be very negative if his father continues to treat him like this.

Family counseling would be a good start if you can get your husband to go. Try to explain to him how damaging this will be to his son and that he could grow up hating him. Their relationship may be an important enough matter that your husband would be willing to change for that reason.

If you can’t get across to your husband what he sounds like when he is verbally abusive, you could try taping an episode and playing it back to him. Sometimes we really don’t know what we sound like.

If you can’t get your husband to go to counseling with you, I hope that you and your son will go. He needs to know that he is a valuable person even though his father treats him otherwise.

Sara

At what age can you fly alone?

Dear Sara,

I have an eleven year old daughter who is going to visit her grandparents this summer. They live 800 miles away and we are thinking about letting her fly there alone. Do you think that she is old enough?

Michael

Dear Michael,

One thing that you need to consider is how mature your daughter is. Some eleven year olds are very dependent on their parents to guide them while others don’t seem to mind being on their own.

She will be safer if she is on a direct flight where you can hand her into the care of a flight attendant and she can be met by her grandparents at the other end. Some airlines make this a requirement for children flying alone. Also airlines have begun to charge a fee for children traveling alone. Be sure to check with the airline you have chosen so that you will be aware of their rules and regulations.

There are some things that you can do to make things safer for your daughter. She should have a picture of her grandparents with her so that airline personnel can make sure she is matched up with the right people at her destination. Make sure she that she has a copy of her itinerary with her as well as phone numbers on either end to call in case of an emergency. You may want to let her take a cell phone so that she can call someone if she feels she needs to. She could call you from the airport to let you know that she has arrived safely.

Some kids become experienced fliers early on. I hope your daughter flies safely and has a good experience.

Sara

How can I entertain my kids on a road trip?

Dear Sara,

We want to take a road trip with our kids who are four, six and eight. We tried this last year and the kids acted out and fought and the trip was really miserable. I want to plan ahead a little bit better for this year. Any suggestions?

Carol Ann

Dear Carol Ann,

Riding in a car can be really boring for kids. You can try to entertain them with some of the games people play in the car. Try counting blue cars, red pickup trucks or anything you choose. The first one who gets to the designated number (ten or 20) gets a small prize. Bring pencil and paper for games like tic tac toe or hangman. You could also let each kid take turns drawing one feature of a person to see what they come up with. Try to find some books on tape that your children might enjoy.

If your children start fighting, it may be time to stop and take a break where they can stretch out and get out of the close quarters of the car. They are not used to this much togetherness.

Hopefully your kids will have fond memories of your trip when they get older.

Sara

How do I find a good pediatrician for my first baby?

Dear Sara,

I am pregnant for the first time and I would like to find a good pediatrician. I want someone who will be supportive of me since I really don’t know what I am doing. Where do I start?

Margie

Dear Margie

The first time for anything is pretty scary, especially having a new baby. The next time you go for a check up, ask your obstetrician for a referral. You might also ask your friends or neighbors who they take their children to and if they have a recommendation. You will want someone you can easily communicate with so I would suggest meeting with several pediatricians on your list so that you can evaluate them yourself.

You could also check out how much of a wait there is or how comfortable their waiting room is because you will probably be spending a lot of time there.

Sara

Should I allow my son to major in art?

Dear Sara,

My son Tony is about to graduate from high school. He is very talented artistically and somewhat of a dreamer. He wants to continue his education and insists that he wants to major in art. I don’t think this is very practical and I’m afraid that he won’t be able to support himself. I have a degree in accounting and I’m doing very well. I could help him get established in my field. I don’t feel that I should have to pay for college when I feel that he will end up without a job. How should I handle this?

Harold

Dear Harold,

It appears that a significant number of children tend to pick a field different from their parents. This is probably from a need to grow and be their own person. The more that you push him toward what you consider to be a “practical” field the more Tony will be determined to make up his own mind.

It appears that you are analytical, logical and linear in your thinking which means that you are using the left side of your brain, while Tony is using the right side of his brain which makes him artistic, intuitive and non-linear in his thinking. You may be able to see from this that he isn’t going to be well suited for a field like accounting.

You may be able to negotiate some things with Tony so that he will take some classes that you consider practical and maybe minor in art. It’s important to him that you try to have some faith in his ability as an artist.

Tony’s job now is to figure out who he is, what he wants to be and how he wants to live his life. He may blame you if he is unhappy if he doesn’t get to follow his dream.

Sara

How do I get my son to listen to my instructions?

Dear Sara,

I am totally frustrated. I have a two year old son who is determined to do the opposite of what I want. If he doesn’t get his way he screams and kicks at me. I can’t take him any place because he will usually pitch a fit at the worst possible time. How can I get him to be more cooperative?

Gilda

Dear Gilda,

Your son sounds like a real handful. He’s really strong willed so you will have to be equally strong willed. If you ever let him have his way when he acts like this he will take this as encouragement and that he is winning. Your job is to be firm and consistent. Try to find little things to reward him when he does cooperate and ignore as much of his tantruming as you can. Eventually he will realize that what he is doing to try to control you
isn’t working.

If you let him get away with this behavior now he will be much harder to deal with as he gets older.

Good luck.

Sara

How do I teach my children the value of a dollar?

Dear Sara,

I am newly divorced and struggling financially. My two children ages ten and twelve have no idea how hard it is for me to manage my budget. How can I make them understand that they can’t have everything they want now?

Nancy

Dear Nancy,

Maybe it’s time to have a family meeting after you have come up with some kind of budget. Let your kids see how much money there is to spend and how much is left after all the bills are paid. (If there is any) Have some of the bills in evidence and let them see just what it’s like on a weekly basis.

The next step may be to take them to the grocery store with you. Try to have a list in hand and tell them the amount designated by the budget. Give them a small calculator and put them in charge of staying within the budget. Most kids like the feeling of being in charge and taking responsibility.

Maybe you could budget some amount of money to be paid to your kids for chores done around the house so that they will have money to spend the way they choose. They will learn more about the value of money if they have to work for it. Try to make getting along financially a family project. They may learn some valuable lessons that they can use when they are on their own.

Sara