Three Year Old Night Owl

Dear Sara,

My three year old is taking an hour and a half nap at daycare and doesn’t want to go to bed at night. I have to get up early and she is still wide awake at 10:00 PM when I need to go to bed. I have talked to them at day dare and they have tried to keep her up but they say she falls asleep anyway. I need my rest. What can I do?
-Ann Marie

Dear Ann Marie,

Changing her schedule won’t be easy if daycare won’t help. If you can keep her up on the weekends that might help. Try to find something that is entertaining enough that she won’t be able to have nap time. Maybe to the park with other kids her age or to the zoo. If she goes to sleep you could wake her after half an hour or so.

I’m sure it’s easier for the daycare workers to have all of the children nap in the afternoon so you might want to look around at different daycares in your area and see what their programs look like. You might find one that has activities for the children in the afternoon.

My Teenager Wants To Drop Out of School

Dear Sara,

I am a single Mom with a sixteen year old daughter. She has decided that she wants to quit school after this year so that she can get a job and buy a car. I have told her that she absolutely cannot do this but I think if she really wants to I may not be able to stop her. I finished high school but really regret not going to college. How can I make my daughter finish high school?

Dear Jenna,

You are probably right that you may not be able to stop your daughter from quitting school but you might be able to make things difficult for her. I doubt that anyone would give her a loan or insurance on a car without your signature. In this area you have control. You might be able to persuade her to get a part-time job after school and continue with school until she graduates if  she realizes that she won’t get her car unless she cooperates by staying in school.

You have lots of responsibilities with raising your daughter and holding down a job but it’s not too late to get your college degree if you want it. Your could go part-time and eventually the credits will add up to a degree. You could look into on-line classes if that would work better for you. Be a good role model for your daughter and do something that you really want to do.

Loveless Marriage

Dear Sara,

I have a new baby and she’s beautiful. I got married because I was pregnant and I think I made a mistake. He’s a good man and I think he loves me and the baby but there is just no feeling on my part now. Should I stay with him for the baby’s sake?

Dear Michelle,

Since you have just had a baby you could be experiencing post partum depression. This is probably not a good time to make a decision that will affect the rest of your life.

You say your husband is a good man so there must be things that you like about him. Take your time and try to see if the feelings that first attracted you to him will come back. You really need to get to know each other. Try having a date night every week so that you can have some time to relax and talk. Maybe there are some things that you have in common that you can do together.

You could also try some couples counseling before you give up on your marriage. This will be an opportunity to talk to your husband about your lack of feelings for him. Give him a chance to hear what you need.

Take your time and don’t rush into anything.

My 5 Year Old Is A Loner

Dear Sara,

My five year old daughter does not like to interact with anyone outside the immediate family. I would almost call her antisocial. She goes to kindergarten and when I have been there to observe, she mostly plays by herself. Her teacher said that if there are group activities she will participate but other than that she tends to play by herself. Is there anything I can do to help her be more social?


Dear Anne,

If your daughter is interacting well within the family then you know that she is able to interact if she chooses. You may want to have some testing done to see if she has a hearing problem or something else that makes her choose to be by herself. She may be able to cope when she is with people she knows better than when she is with strangers, if she has some hidden problem.

If shyness is the problem you could invite one child at a time to your home so that she can get to know them on a one to one basis. Try to find a game that the two of them can play and be there to supervise and encourage at first.
Your daughter may just need some time to mature. If she can’t or won’t interact with other kids on a one to one basis then follow up on the testing to see if there is a problem that you might be missing.

Good luck.

Interfering Mother-In-Law

Dear Sara,

My wife and I have four children ages six to fourteen. In general they are cooperative, well behaved children. The problem is my mother-in-law. She comes over to our house without being invited and proceeds to tell my wife all of the wrong things she is doing. This includes how to raise our children and how to do the housework better. I have been putting up with this for years and I have just about had it with her criticisms and complaints. My wife tells me to stay out of it and just lets it go on. What can I do to stop this interference?


Dear Nolin,

All of this negative energy can’t be good for your family. Your wife seems to be willing to put up with it for the sake of a relationship with her mother. What you might do is take a positive approach. Every time your mother-in-law complains or makes a negative remark, you could come back with praise for your wife in the way she is handling the situation. Also, (in front of your mother-in-law) praise your children and their accomplishments. If she complains about the house not being tidy, you could explain that if she had let you know she was coming, it would be in perfect condition. Give your wife a hug and stand by her and let her know what a great job she is doing. You won’t make her Mom mad and she will know that you don’t share her negative opinion.

Baby Pressure

Dear Sara,
My husband is against using any artificial birth control. We have been
using the rhythm method. I just found out that I am pregnant again for the fourth time in seven years. I feel overwhelmed and depressed. I really don't want any more children. I love the ones I have but it's just more than I can handle. I know that I agreed to this before we married but I don't think I realized what having babies and caring for them was really like. How can I make my husband understand how I feel and what I am going through? -Chelsea

Dear Chelsea,
It's time for you to have a heart to heart talk with your husband and let him know what you are going through. Probably the only sure way to keep from getting pregnant is abstinence and that is not good for a healthy marriage.
Let your husband know that you love him and your children but you just can't deal with what he is asking of you any more. He is not the one who has to go through pregnancy and childbirth or care for the baby after it gets here.
Ask him to go to your next appointment with your gynecologist and discuss what options you might have for birth control after this baby arrives. Sometimes women have a tubal ligation right after they deliver their baby.
If your husband refuses any options for preventing you from getting pregnant again, you probably need to see a therapist or a marriage counselor. Your physical and mental health are important. -Sara

Pre-Teen With Temper Tantrums

Dear Sara,

I have been divorced for two years and my ex has already remarried. I have a live in boyfriend and am raising my two daughters ages eight and thirteen. My thirteen year old daughter Melanie is the problem. She has terrible temper tantrums and doesn’t want to go to school. When things get too bad I send her to her father’s house. His new wife eventually gets tired of her and sends her back. What can I do to get her to quit acting like this?

Dear Kerry,

You have asked a lot of Melanie. First you and her father divorce, which was probably difficult for her and then he remarries and she has to accept another person into her life, now you have another man in your life, who may or may not become her stepfather. This is a lot for a thirteen year old to deal with especially since she needs to go through puberty and the usual developmental stages for her age.

Melanie could be  trying to keep the old family connected and involved with each other by acting out. Other than regularly scheduled visits it might be better to not allow Melanie to move from house to house. She needs stability at this point in her life.

This sounds like you have a lot to deal with and need some professional help. Try to find a good family therapist and get both families involved. Melanie also needs some help dealing with everything that is going on.

Son’s Risky Relationship

Dear Sara,
My twenty year old son is dating a girl who is pregnant. This is not his 
baby. He started dating her after she became pregnant by someone else.
She also has a five year old. My son says that she plans to give the 
current baby up for adoption. I feel that this is a risky situation for 
my son and have tried my best to discourage this relationship. He just 
won't listen to me and continues to see this girl. Is there any way to 
get my son to end this relationship?

Dear Carmela,
At age twenty there probably isn't anything you can do to prevent your son
from dating this girl. It sounds like  she doesn't use good 
judgement in her relationships with men and so far they have abandoned her 
when she becomes pregnant. Your option here is to try to talk 
to your son about contraception. He will need to be the responsible person 
in his relationship with this girl. He may not want to hear this 
from you but you at least have to give it your best effort. After her baby 
arrives you could consider purchasing some necessary protection 
for him. Good luck.

Teasing Children… Where’s the line?

Dear Sara,
My sister and her husband have three girls ages eight, ten and fourteen. Her husband teases and ridicules the girls unmercifully. He has told them they’re too tall, calling them string bean and he’s made fun of budding breasts. It’s always some form of comment that he thinks is funny but is negative. I hate to butt in but I feel I need to do something, but what? He thinks it’s all a big joke but he’s belittling these girls.

Dear Lena,
When children are growing up, they need to hear the positives about themselves especially teens because they are often critical of themselves and how they look. You might think about talking to your sister first about your impression of her husband. Maybe she has already spoken to him without results. It’s hard to tell if he is being cruel or if he really thinks it’s funny.
I know that it might be difficult for you but someone needs to speak up and try to protect these girls. Let your brother in law know how it makes you feel when he makes fun of and belittles his girls. It’s important to express you feelings rather than criticize and blame. He may be angry but it could convince him to stop making his daughters feel bad about themselves. I hope you can make him see how negative his actions are.

My Child Won’t Cooperate

Dear Sara,
I have a four year old son who I can only describe as obstinate. 
He doesn't want to eat what I fix. He doesn't want to
go to daycare. He doesn't want to go to bed. I am so tired of 
having to make him do everything. I just feel drained at
the end of the day and he still wants another drink of water or
trip to the bathroom at bedtime. What can I do to make
him more cooperative?

Dear Lisa,
This sounds like quite a power struggle. Think about ways to 
handle things differently. You could ask him what he wants
to eat and just remove whatever is left. Don't fight it just
ignore it. When he gets hungry he will eat. If he can't
get you into an argument or discussion this may make it less
interesting for him.You could try giving little rewards for 
his cooperative behavior. What kind of treat would he enjoy. 
A small piece of candy for the day or a small toy at the end
of the week maybe. The bedtime routine could be a way to get
some of your attention since he hasn't seen you during the day. 
I know he's been a pest and seems to have gone out of his 
way to aggravate you but maybe he missed you. Try reading him 
a story and rub his back for a while to help him relax.
Try to get your son's cooperation in other ways than constantly 
having a power struggle.