35, Unmarried and Thinking about Artificial Insemination

Dear Sara,

I am thirty-five years old unmarried and no prospects in sight. I love children and I have always thought of myself as being married and having a family. I am thinking about artificial insemination. I am pretty sure that I would be OK financially since I have enough money saved up to see me through for the first year and pay my medical expenses. I have this now or never feeling. Does this plan have any chance of working?

-Teri


Dear Teri,

When a woman feels the need to hold a baby in her arms, this instinct is extremely difficult to resist Apparently your pull toward motherhood is very strong. Raising a child under any circumstances can be thankless, frustrating and difficult. You will face many challenges alone if you decide to do this. I hope you have some family for backup when you need help.

You sound like you have made your mind up already. Go to some parenting classes and make sure you have a good idea about what you need to know to raise your child to be a successful adult. You may experience a challenge when it comes time to explain to your son or daughter that their father was an anonymous sperm donor. There could be some emotional problems especially during the teen years when kids are trying to find their own identities so be prepared.

If you decide to go ahead with your plan (and I think you will) try to be very supportive of your child when they are feeling the loss of a father figure.

-Sara

Daughter’s Worrying Eating Habits

Dear Sara,

My daughter is fifteen. Her eating habits are terrible. She has decided that she wants to be a vegetarian and won’t eat any meat. She says she “won’t eat anything with eyes.” She doesn’t look too thin but I worry about her. What can I do to get her to eat more?

-Michelle


Dear Michelle,

The first thing to do is to have her checked over by your pediatrician. At her age she is still probably growing and needs nutrients like calcium and iron. While you can find these in salads and vegetables there may not be there in sufficient quantity. Her doctor might want to have her take a multivitamin with iron if he finds out she needs it.

It’s OK for your daughter to be a vegetarian but have her go on-line to see what a healthy vegetarian diet looks like. If she’s not losing weight, where are her calories coming from? There are a lot of calories in things like potato chips and buttered popcorn. Try to think about what she should eat the next time you go grocery shopping. Try things like carrots with dip or apples if she likes them or snacks made with cereal pieces. You will have some control over what she eats if you shop carefully. Kids often come home from school hungry so make sure only healthy snacks are available.

-Sara

Defiant 4-year-old

Dear Sara,

We have a four-year-old son who is constantly defying us. He asks for something for breakfast and then won’t eat it. He refuses to pick up his toys and bedtime is a battle. He has temper tantrums and lies down on the floor kicking his feet. We don’t know how to get him to cooperate. Any advice on this?

-Rob


Dear Rob,

Apparently when your son acts out he gets what he wants. You seem to be constantly at is beck and call. He has been used to being in control so it may take some time to become parents who are in charge. If he refuses his breakfast just go on with your own and don’t worry about it. He will eat when he is hungry. If he doesn’t pick up his toys you could think up a consequence. If he has special things he watches on TV then you could take that away. You can withhold anything that he values. The best thing for temper tantrums is to totally ignore them. My oldest son laid on the floor kicking his feet. I ignored him and stepped over him as if it wasn’t happening. He never tried it again.

A lot of kids don’t want to go to bed at night. You just have to be firm and make your son stay in his room. Don’t continually check on him and give him attention. Right now your son is ruling your home. In order for him to feel really secure, he needs for you to be in charge. Things won’t change overnight so don’t give up.

Good luck,

-Sara

Unplanned Pregnancy

Dear Sara,

My daughter is eighteen and is having an unplanned pregnancy. She has married the young man who is the father of the baby. At present they are living with me. The problem is that I can’t stand her new husband. He’s tremendously overweight, has trouble holding a job and we get into arguments all of the time. This is really stressful for me. I don’t want my daughter to leave but I don’t want her husband here. What can I do?

-Janine


Dear Janine,

I know you love your daughter and are excited about the new baby but sometimes it’s just better for newly weds to live on their own. They need their privacy and they need to learn to work out their problems and take responsibility for their own actions. Don’t feel guilty for putting them out. Your daughter loves her young man so there must be some good in him. Trust her to be able to run her own life. If you can help them get settled in their new place it will be best for all of you. Try to stay out of their business so if things go wrong then you won’t be blamed.

-Sara

How Do I Convince My Husband I Should Work

Dear Sara,

I have five-year-old twins. My husband and I tried for ten years to have a baby and finally were successful with in-vitro fertilization. We decided that I would stay home with the babies until they went to school. My old job is waiting for me but my husband insists that I stay home and take care of the twins. He even threatened to leave if I went back to work which is idiotic. I am tired of him trying to control me. This has been going on since he became the sole breadwinner. How can I convince him that it’s OK for me to go back to work?

-MA


Dear MA,

This isn’t about you going back to work. It’s about your husband’s need to control. You are going to have to assert yourself and do what you feel is good for you and your children. If you give in every time he says jump then your life will be his not yours. Don’t let him bully you.

Good luck.

-Sara

My New Wife Has An Issue With My Son

Dear Sara,

My ex-wife and I divorced when my son was three years old and I have had custody since then. He is now seven years old. She just recently started to exercise her parental rights every other weekend. I am remarried and although my wife is awesome with our two kids she says she can no longer stand my son’s behavior towards her. Although I think some of his behavior is just selective hearing, she insists that he ignores her and has selfish behavior. She has started to ignore him and I don’t feel this is the best answer to the problem. I have tried to talk with her about it but she says she knows no other way to handle it. Help!

-Ken



Dear Ken,

Step-parenting is not an easy task. Your son has found a way to be really irritating to your wife and she has retaliated by punishing by ignoring. It appears that you are minimizing the problem. Your wife needs some serious backup if she is going to parent your child. Let your son know that there will be consequences (loss of game or computer) if he ignores his stepmom.

If his mother has been out of the picture for some time, he may be feeling some conflict about where his loyalties lie. Give him an opportunity to talk about this with you. However, kids often have trouble expressing how they feel. Be sure to back up your wife in her discipline of your son. Have you heard the expression “if mama’s not happy nobody’s happy.” Give her your support in this.

-Sara

My Kids Say I Don’t Listen

Dear Sara,

My children ages ten and twelve are constantly repeating themselves to me. They complain that I am not listening to them. I have a full time job and my mother is in a nursing home so I constantly have something to do with never any time for myself. How can I keep my sanity and pay more attention to my kids?

-Holly



Dear Holly,

It appears that you have two problems here. The first is that you are tuning out your children and not focusing on their needs. The second problem is that you don’t have time to take care of yourself and your needs. You could be approaching a meltdown.

When you get home from work, let your kids know that you need about thirty minutes or so of quiet time to change gears from work to home life. Use this time to do something that will help you relax. Your kids are growing up fast. They really do need your attention even if what they are talking about appears trivial., it’s not trivial to them. If you can paraphrase what they say and repeat is back to them, they will feel that you have heard them. Also listen for what they are feeling as well. Are they worried about an exam, excited about the game they played or sad because someone said something mean? These things are important to them.

Your kids will soon be teens and pulling away from your family unit to try their own wings. You won’t be sorry if you try to keep the lines of communication open.

-Sara

Two Year Old Is “A Holy Terror”

Dear Sara,

My two-year-old is what might be called a “holy terror.” He got up before I did an went outside naked to play. Luckily one of the neighbors spotted him and brought him home. I now make sure the doors are locked and I have a gate on his bedroom door. I’m a stay at home Mom but he seems to figure out ways to evade me and get into everything. He still takes a nap every day so I have a little time to do things but I am exhausted. How can I get him to calm down?

-Julie



Dear Julie,

Two-year-olds can be very demanding and yours seems to top the charts. A lot of kids like to be read to, so if he gets too active, sit down with him and see if you can get him interested in a story. Try to take him for a walk every day so he gets plenty of exercise. You may need to invest in a harness for little kids so he doesn’t escape and get hurt.

All of his activity and curiosity are a good sign that he is very bright and interested in everything and wants to know what is going on. If he doesn’t calm down by school-age then check with your pediatrician to see if he might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He may have trouble paying attention in school. There is medication for this.

-Sara

Single Dad Needs Help With Teen Daughter

Dear Sara,

I am a single Dad and my eleven-year-old daughter wants a bra. At this point, there is definitely no need for one but she argues and complains that she does need a bra. How do I handle this?

-Confused Dad



Dear Confused Dad,

Preteen girls are often on an emotional roller coaster and everything seems super important to them. This is just the beginning so try to be patient with her needs and wants. Your daughter may have some difficulty talking to you about her reasons for needing a bra. A bra is kind of like a status symbol and says that she is becoming a young woman. She probably wants a bra because her friends are getting them. They actually sell bras for preteens.

At this point it’s important enough to her that you could let her win this battle and for you to hold the line on more important things. Just because you give in here doesn’t mean you have to give in all of the time.Take your daughter to a good department store and let the sales lady help her pick out something suitable.

Good luck.

-Sara

Working Parent Worried About Bonding Time

Dear Sara,

I have two kids ages five an seven. I have a job and need to work to pay the bills and feel like my kids don’t get enough of my attention and are getting out of control. I would like to make some New Year’s resolutions to parent my kids in a better way. Do you have some suggestions?

-Jordan



Dear Jordan,

In order for kids to feel secure kids need a certain amount of rules. They may test the limits and try your patience but they feel more secure if you’re in charge. If you say “no” mean it. Don’t let crying or anger manipulate you out of it.

Let them know your value system and be a good example for them.

Give your children some responsibility. They need to know that everything is not all about them.

Be positive in your interactions with your children. Don’t belittle them or put them down. Too much criticism makes them feel bad about themselves. Give them praise when they deserve it(even a little).

Teach them the value of money.

Keep them close. Supervise them as much as possible. Make them your priority.

Tell your children that you love them.

When it’s time, let them go with love. They will eventually want their independence.

Good luck,

-Sara