Piano Lessons

Dear Sara,

My six-year-old daughter wants to take piano lessons. I want this for her too, since I always wanted to take piano lessons when I was a child. We don’t have a lot of extra money and I hate to put out the money for a piano if she loses interest in six months time. Should I let her try it?

Dear Noel,

Children learn things so easily. It’s a really good idea to start early. I know a piano is a big expense so maybe there are other options like an electronic keyboard or renting a piano if you feel the need for a regular piano and have room for one. It sounds like you feel that you really missed out by not taking piano lessons when you were young. It’s not unusual for adults to use their leisure time to learn a new skill and it would probably encourage your daughter to practice more if she had her Mom to emulate. Maybe the two of you could even play a duet. I’ll bet even if your daughter loses interest that you will have a new hobby to enjoy.

Stopping A Dangerous Relationship

Dear Sara,

My sixteen-year-old daughter is “in love” with a guy we thought was eighteen. Her friend’s mother just told us that he is not eighteen but twenty-five and has a criminal record. He has been arrested on drug and assault charges. Her father and I have forbidden her to see him any more but we think that she may sneak out to see him. How can we put a stop to this?

Dear Edie,

This is a very difficult problem. Your daughter may decide this man is the most important person in her life and try to pursue him. If you can have a serious talk with the young man and convince him that you will take legal action or some other means to keep him away from your daughter, this could be worth a try. You will have to monitor her behavior and actions very closely. Check to make sure that she is where she says she will be going.
You may not be able to talk her out of this relationship. All you can do is try to protect her to the best of your ability.

Sister Stole My Boyfriend

Dear Sara,

I am fourteen years old and I had a boyfriend who is sixteen. My sister stole him away. She is also sixteen and she flirted with him and now they go places together. My parents won’t help. They say it has to be his choice. I don’t think this is fair. Is there anything I can do about this?

Dear Camryn,

At your age boyfriends and girlfriends tend to go apart rather quickly. It wasn’t very nice of your sister to flirt with your boyfriend but there isn’t much you can do about it. Apparently, you are an attractive girl who gets noticed by boys so maybe you will have a new boyfriend soon. Your best bet is to keep a smile on your face and be friendly to everyone.

Good luck,

Caught Sons Smoking

Dear Sara,

I can’t tell you how upset I am. I have two sons ages nine and twelve. I caught them smoking today. The reason I am so upset is that my mother died of lung cancer. She was only forty-two years old when she died and I still miss her so much. I can remember growing up how my clothes and hair smelled like smoke. I have told my sons about the dangers of smoking and they still tried it. What can I do to make them understand?

Dear Angie,

I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you have presented the facts to your sons and this hasn’t made enough of an impact. Why don’t you try telling your sons about your feelings? You could say “I feel so scared when you smoke because I don’t want you to die like my mother did.” Or you could say”I felt angry with my Mom because she smoked and then died and left me without her love and affection.” I’m sure that you can think of other feelings that you have now or when you were growing up.

If you still have family members who smoke and have tried to quit maybe they could talk to your sons and let them know what a hard habit smoking is to kick. Your sons don’t have the experience to know what they are getting into.
Good luck.

Moving On With A New Man

Dear Sara,

I have been divorced for four years and have been dating a man for one year and we plan to get married. My six year old daughter loves him and has never said anything about not liking him or not wanting him around, but she does pout if she sees us holding hands or hugging. She says “you are giving him all my loving.” I hug, kiss and tell her I love her all the time and try to make her feel like she is a priority, even more, when he is around but it upsets him when she makes these comments because he is not sure if this is normal behavior or a real problem.
Please help.

Dear Amanda,

Your daughter has had you all to herself for a while and she doesn’t want to share. She may also feel left out of your twosome. It’s probably normal for her to feel some jealousy. If you plan to get married then the three of you will be a family It may be that your daughter feels that your fiance is excluding her. You sound like you are very loving toward your daughter and she is probably aware of your love for her, so she may feel insecure about how your fiance feels about her. Try to put yourself in her place. She is seeing you giving your new love a lot of attention and he is returning this attention. If you and he can include her more she may begin to feel more secure. Time will take care of her feelings of jealousy.

I Have Baby Fever

Dear Sara,

I am single and have never been married. I would really like to have a child. I have thought about adoption or finding a sperm donor. I would not be able to quit working so I would be a working Mom and don’t know if this is fair to a child. I am almost thirty and feel like I need to do this now while I have the energy to raise a child. Do you think this is an impossible idea?

Dear Grace,

Your idea may not be impossible but you could face some problems. It’s difficult to adopt a newborn baby because so many couples want one and many unmarried girls choose to keep their babies. If you adopt an older child, they often come from dysfunctional families and have various problems. Apparently in vitro fertilization is fairly expensive and it could take several tries to get pregnant. So that is something to consider. There are many working Moms out there and they are to be admired for taking on two full-time jobs. Only you can decide what you are able to handle.

Potty Training Problems

Dear Sara,

I have a six-year-old son who can’t poop on the toilet. He poops in his underwear all day long. He is going into first grade this year and he can’t go through another year having accidents at school. I am sure the other kids have said something to him. His doctor gave him a laxative but that only works for a couple of days. He says he can’t feel it when it happens. His stomach gets so constipated that he has lumps that you can see. He was born three and a half months premature and has learning difficulties and anxiety issues. So please see if you can suggest what I can do to get him to go poop on the toilet. I would greatly appreciate any help. I have tried bribing him with treats if he goes but nothing works. HELP!

Dear Christa,

It does sound like your little guy needs help. Premature babies sometimes have bowel problems caused by an immature intestinal tract, so he could still be experiencing some problems because of this. Some things to think about are his diet and having a regular toilet time. You might try having a regular toilet time before he goes to school in the morning. Some kids are picky eaters and don’t get the fiber they need to move their food through their intestines. See if you can increase his intake of fruits and vegetables and add some over the counter fiber to his diet (one brand comes in chocolate). You will also need to encourage him to drink lots of water. Talk to your pediatrician about putting him on some regular medication so that his bowel movements can more regular and comfortable for him.

I hope you can get this under control before school starts but if your son is still having problems you could consider using a small pad to line his underwear that he could change if his pants get messy.

Good luck,

Thinking About Divorce

Dear Sara,

I know this isn’t about parenting but it may eventually affect my kids if I get a divorce. I am angry and hurt and depressed. I wanted to have a romantic evening on my birthday. I sent my kids to their grandparent’s house and had dinner with all of my husband’s favorite foods. He took off and went to his buddy’s house to watch a ball game. I hadn’t told him my plans and I guess he didn’t think about my birthday. I ate dinner about 8:00 PM and he came home around 10:00 PM. I just went to bed without saying anything. He didn’t have a clue why I was upset. I don’t know how to handle this lack of caring. Any suggestions?
-Jo Anna

Dear JoAnna,

It sounds like you have a communication problem. Your husband doesn’t have a clue how much a romantic evening means to you. If he didn’t grow up in an atmosphere where men were romantic, he may be unaware or uncomfortable. It’s up to you to very clear to your husband what your expectations are. Don’t leave it up to him to guess. He needs education in how to be romantic. If you expect a romantic evening and a gift it won’t be quite as romantic but tell him what you want preferably a week ahead of time. Don’t expect him to read your mind. If you want something special for Christmas, Easter or birthday be very clear with him. Your kids need to grow up seeing a father who cares about their mother. It gives your kids a sense of security to know their parents love each other.

Giving Opportunities To My Gifted Son

Dear Sara,

My son is thirteen and very bright. I don’t know where he gets this as his father and I are just average. He took a test at a private school and they have offered him a scholarship that will pay half of his tuition. This would stretch our budget to the limit and then some for the four years that he would be there and we also have two younger kids who also need things. His father says we absolutely can’t afford it but I’m inclined to say yes because it’s a really good opportunity and he really wants to go there. What do you think?

Dear Molly,

If your son really wants to go to this school then he needs to step up and help earn the money. Is he willing to mow the neighbor’s lawn or get some babysitting jobs? It won’t be easy for him and his classmates won’t have to do these things so he may be considered different or an outsider. His willingness to work may show you just how committed he is to going to this school. Most public schools have programs for gifted students. If he works hard and keeps his grades up he could earn a scholarship to college. I wish him the best.

Daughter Is Uninterested In Everything

Dear Sara,

I have a sixteen-year-old daughter who seems very uninterested in anything. She just lays around and watches TV or plays video games on the computer. She is barely passing in school. When I ask her what’s wrong she just says “nothing.” She’s snacking a lot and seems to be gaining weight. Her apathy is overwhelming to me. Is there any way I can help her?

Dear Megan,

The first thing you could do is to take her to a doctor and get her a physical. Her tiredness could be something like anemia. If she checks out physically then she could be depressed or on some kind of drug. When she gets her physical you could ask the doctor to check out these things.

If she didn’t have TV or video games how would she spend her time? If you set a limit on how much time she can spend with these things she might be motivated to do something positive. Are there interests that she used to have that she could go back to? She does seem to have symptoms of depression. If this continues you may need some professional help.