Should I trust him again?

Dear Sara,

I have been divorced from Joe (not his real name) for two years now. We have a three year old and a six year old. He seems to have a different girlfriend every month now and the reason I divorced him was because he was unfaithful several times that I know about. He lives with his mother now and has the kids every other weekend. They are crazy about him.

Last weekend when he brought the kids home he spent Sunday night here. The kids were thrilled to find him here Monday morning. He said he still loves me and wants us to get back together again. He promised me that he would never cheat again. I don’t trust him but I want my kids to be happy. What should I do?

Mary Kay

Dear Mary Kay,

Ask yourself if you and your husband got back together again, what would your life look like? Your kids would be happy. You would probably be happy for a while until the rosy glow wore off and then what? Even if Joe didn’t cheat, you would be constantly worried and checking up on him. He would probably get angry when he felt you didn’t trust him and then what would happen if he really did cheat on you again? Do you think you could go through the pain of another divorce? You need to ask yourself these questions. Think about seeing a therapist who can help you sort all of the out before you make a decision.

Good luck.


How do I cope with my kids leaving home?

Dear Sara,

I am feeling really depressed because my children are leaving home. They are close in age and it feels like they are all leaving me at once. One got married and is living in another state, one joined the air force and is in another country, and the other is in college. They have been my entire life and I don’t know how to function any more. I’m too old to have another baby. What can I do?


Dear Lana,

If your children want to be independent and self sufficient you have done a good job! This is your time! Make a list of the things that you like to do or would like to try and find something that you can be passionate about. Volunteer work is something that you can give of yourself and get a sense of satisfaction in return. Have you thought about a part time job? Maybe you always wanted to go to college and got married early. It’s not too late. Start by taking one or two classes to see how you’ll do. You have so many options.

Take care of yourself and be sure to see a doctor if your depression persists. There are medications to help you through this.


How do I teach my daughter good eating habits?

Dear Sara,

I have a four year old daughter who is overweight. I would like to help her now before it gets out of hand. What can I do to help her lose weight when she seems hungry all of the time?


Dear Jennie,

You are smart to do something now while her eating habits can be changed. If you and other family members are constantly eating junk food and snacks, you would be wise to get rid of these things and start buying healthy food for the whole family. Start with buying lots of fruits and vegetables and reading the calorie content on food packages. She may be happy with a banana instead of potato chips. You will need to be the role model. You can’t eat junk food and expect her not to.

She may need more exercise as well. Try to get her out for a little walk every day. It will be good for both of you.

Make sure she gets her regular check ups with her pediatrician. It won’t happen overnight but if you are consistent in trying to give her healthy foods she will eventually lose the excess weight.


How do I protect my son from young girls?

Dear Sara,

My son is fourteen years old and has a girlfriend. She is fourteen also and is actively pursuing him. She calls him all of the time and wants him to meet her. She won’t leave him alone. If I answer the phone, I tell her he’s not here. I don’t know what to do to discourage this little vixen. Any suggestions?


Dear Meredith,

Your son seems fairly passive in all this drama. At fourteen he is probably interested in girls but mostly from a distance. The fact that this young lady is pursuing him could well be a turn off to him.

Kids this age get infatuated often but it usually doesn’t last long. Since they need transportation it is difficult for them to get together. I wouldn’t be surprised if this little case of puppy love will be over soon. If you try to interfere you may make it seem more important than it is. Just be patient and wait for the break up.


How do I make sure my kids don’t break my mother’s antiques?

Dear Sara,

I have two children ages six months and three years. They are both very active and I have to watch them constantly. I am planning a visit to my mother’s home in another state and she has lots of antiques and collectibles. What can I do to keep my kids safe and my mother’s house intact? She doesn’t seem to think this will be a problem.


Dear Debbie,

I think you already know that it’s going to be a nightmare if your kids have the run of the house at grandma’s. Let your Mom know your concerns and suggest that she put up a temporary gate in one room where you can baby proof and keep her treasures away from the kids and safe.

You can bring along things like outlet covers and cabinet latches. Kids are so curious so remind her to put things out of reach like breakable items, medications, alcohol and perfumes and cologne and cigarettes if she smokes. Your Mom is probably looking forward to time with her grandchildren so she will also want them to be safe.

Hopefully you will be able to take you kids outside some of the time. Remember to patrol the yard for doggie do if Grandma has a pet. Bring a few of the children’s favorite toys so they will have something to entertain themselves. You will still have to be very watchful but not as much as if they have the run of the whole house.

Good luck.


How do I teach my son to conquer fears?

Dear Sara,

I have three children ages eleven, seven and six months. My six month old Danny has developed a fear of strangers. He won’t interact with anyone but immediate family and cries and clings to me if anyone speaks to him. How can I help him get over this?


Dear Clarissa,

I know this can be a problem, especially if you might have to leave Danny with a sitter on occasion. This is something that some kids go through and they usually outgrow it in a few months.

I’m sure it’s painful for grandparents to feel rejected by their grandchild or visitor to not be able to hold him but for right now he feels fearful so let him take his time getting to know people.

Danny may be more willing to interact with others if he gets to make the first move. He may need to sit on your lap and observe for a while. Let him take his time. Sometimes an interesting toy can help him interact while he remains sitting on your lap.

Children often react this way to people who have loud booming voices when they are used to a quieter atmosphere. So let Danny take his time getting to know people from the safety of your lap. For right now he needs to be in your protection to feel secure.


How do I find out if my son is stealing from kids at school?

Dear Sara,

My six year old son Jason has been coming home from school on a regular basis with things that I didn’t buy for him. Things like pencils and colored pens, just odds and ends of things that I don’t recognize. He said the teacher gave it to him or he found it on the school bus. It doesn’t seem to add up and I think he might be stealing from the other kids. I can afford to buy him what he needs so I don’t understand this. How should I handle this situation?


Dear Barbara,

Kids this age know right from wrong but sometimes it’s not too important to them. You probably need to check with his teacher and see if she can confirm what he has said. If you find out that he lied then you can have a serious talk about right and wrong and not taking something what belongs to someone else.

Sometimes things like this will start when a child feels anxious. He may be going to a new school or the first time riding the school bus. See if you can get Jason to talk abut his experiences. There may be some ways that you can help or support him if he is having problems. If he continues to take things even though you have talked to him about it, you may want to find an experienced therapist who works with children for him to talk to. It’s better to deal with this now than when he is older.


How do I show my Mom that I am not a baby anymore?

Dear Sara,

I am eighteen years old and have a six month old baby. I got pregnant in high school and married right after graduation. My husband and I rent a house and are very happy. My problem is my mother. She still sees me as a child. She comes over every day about 10:00 in the morning. I am just barely out of bed. The baby goes to bed late and so I sleep until she wakes up. My Mom thinks she has to do dishes, clean the house and take care of the baby. How can I get my Mom to let me run my own life?


Dear Jamie,

It feels like your Mom doesn’t have much confidence in your ability to take care of yourself. Up until now have you been really dependent on her? Getting married and having a baby is a really big step for you and your Mom probably sees you as a child.

You may have to have a plan to make your Mom see you as a competent grownup. I know that you are tired in the mornings but maybe you could get up an hour earlier and have the dishes done, the house picked up and the baby dressed and ready for the day. Your Mom won’t have much to do and will be able to see that you are capable of caring for you own family.

You might also think about what your Mom has gone through. You launched into adulthood very quickly and she hasn’t had much time to adjust to the change. Let her know that you don’t need her daily visits but give her some time with you and the baby. Consider going to visit Mom and spending time with her at her house. That way you can control how long your visit will be and how often.

It’s your home and your life and it’s OK for you to be in charge of it.


How can I get my step-kids to show more respect?

Dear Sara,

Six months ago I married a wonderful woman. Gail was married before and has two children ages seven and eleven. The best I can say about these kids is that they are brats. They are disrespectful to their mother and to me. What can I do to change things?


Dear Gary,

The step parent role is a difficult one as you seem to have found out. If you were raised in a family where respect for parents was expected then you know how children should behave. However, it would be next to impossible for you to change them on your own without Gail’s blessing.

You and Gail need to have a serious discussion about how the children are treating you. Together you can formulate a plan. Your goal should be to be supportive of her in her parenting. Let her know that you want her to be the authority figure. If you try to be the disciplinarian the children will probably be resentful and angry especially if their father is still in the picture and they have had hopes of a reconciliation of their parents.
If you find that Gail has difficulty being an effective parent it might be a good idea to try some family counseling where everybody can sit down together and try to work things out.

Good luck.


How can I help my daughter adjust to moving to a new school?

Dear Sara,

My husband has a great job that pays really well. His company needs him in another location so we have to relocate. There is no other comparable job in this area so we don’t feel we have a choice. We have a sixteen year old daughter who is very upset. She is a cheerleader at her high school, she has lots of friends and has been dating a young man who is her classmate. I realize what a problem this move is for her but I don’t see any other choice. How can I help her adjust?


Dear Carrie,

This move is really difficult for your daughter so you will have to be really patient with her. She seems to have lots of social skills, which will be important to her adjustment to her mew location. She will miss her old friends but it won’t be long before she has new ones.

Even if she is far away. she can still keep in touch with her friends. Kids spend lots of time on facebook and texting and she will still be able to do these things. Until she adjusts to her new surroundings, you might let her spend some weekends or vacations with her friends. She needs the comfort of her old world while she adjusts to the new one. This will be a big challenge for your daughter but sometimes this can be a good thing. Growing up means learning to deal with change.