16-Year-Old Runaway

Dear Sara,

My sixteen-year-old daughter ran away from home last week. I am so worried about her. My relatives have seen her and have called to let me know the area she is in but she seems to be moving around so I don’t have an exact location, otherwise, I would send the police after her to bring her home. She doesn’t agree with our religious beliefs and thinks we are too strict on her. He father thinks she should be whipped when she gets home and says she is a bad person. He also blames me for her behavior. I don’t know what else I could have done to raise her better. I want my daughter to come back home but I don’t think she will while her father is so angry. What else can I do?
-Emma




Dear Emma,

Your goal here might be to get your daughter settled in a place where she feels safe. It looks like she is so afraid of her father that she isn’t willing to live in the same house with him anymore. It is very hard on a child’s self-esteem to be criticized and punished for every little thing. They need love and nurturing as well. Your husband thinks that if he punishes her enough she will be perfect. She will be resentful and angry and this is why she has run away. You may need to find family or friends for her to stay with.

If she is forced to come home and your husband beats her, call Child Protective Services and make sure she has a place where she can be safe and live without fear. If you don’t protect her she will just run away again.
-Sara

Helping Or Enabling?

Dear Sara,

My nineteen-year-old daughter does not seem to have much common sense. She has a job and decided to move to her own apartment. Where I live is much closer to her job than her new apartment. She wrecked her car(not her first wreck) soon after she moved and now wants me to take her back and forth to work. I’m not working right now so this is possible but not convenient. If I don’t take her she will lose her job. Should I keep helping her?
-Leah




Dear Leah,

This is going to get old pretty fast but you are kind of between a rock and a hard place. Your daughter is trying to grow up and be her own person so this is what she needs to do but she seems to have gotten herself in trouble right away. Let her know that you don’t want to do this long-term and she should ask around to her friends, workmates, and others in her apartment complex if anyone else might be working in the same area who can give her a ride. Part of growing up is figuring out things for yourself. Her best option may be to give up the apartment and move back home. Her other option could be to find a new job close to her new apartment. I hope things work out for her.
-Sara

Pregnancy Test

Dear Sara,

I was in the drugstore this morning and happened to see a friend of my daughter buying a pregnancy test. They go to the local Catholic school together and they are both fifteen. I didn’t think she was even allowed to date yet so I’m not sure what to do. Do I talk to the girl and encourage her to confide in me or do I talk to her parents? She surely needs help from someone.
-Lauren




Dear Lauren,

This is not something that you can do by yourself. The best thing you can do is call or go by their house to talk to this girl’s Mom. She needs her mother whether she is pregnant or not. She may not be happy about this but you would be doing the best thing for her.

She also needs to know how to protect herself from unwanted pregnancy. She’s much too young to have a baby and this is something her parents need to be responsible for. She needs time to grow up first. This is mostly out of your hands. Her parents will probably be upset but they need to know what is going on in their daughter’s life.
Sara

Nose Piercing

Dear Sara,

My seventeen-year-old daughter went to her friend’s house to spend the night. When she came home the next day her nose was pierced. She said the girl’s mother who is a nurse bought the earrings and plastic subs online and did the piercing for her and her friend. She told the mother that she had my permission which was not true. I was furious and called the girl’s mother who said she thought it was OK with me because that was what my daughter had told her. My daughter is now not allowed to spend the night with anyone and is not supposed to see the girl, but they are best friends and school starts soon. Is there anything I can do to keep my daughter safe from idiots like this?
-Robbie




Dear Robbie,

It sounds like your daughter made a decision to do this and kept it from you because she knew you wouldn’t approve. Teens have been doing this kind of thing for a long time. They are starting to be their own person and to think they know what’s best for themselves. You would like to keep her safe and protected and she wants to try her wings. You can only guide her so far. She’s starting to be independent. It’s difficult but inevitable.

She was wrong for going against what she knew you wouldn’t approve of but she’s growing up and trying to make her own decisions. You gave her an appropriate punishment so you did what you thought was best for her.

Good luck.
-Sara

Troubled Friend

Dear Sara,

I don’t know whether to be worried or not. I am sixteen and my best friend is not acting right. She won’t tell me what’s wrong but she cries a lot and only wants to stay home. She had a boyfriend at the beginning of summer but she didn’t seem too sad when they broke up. I want to help her but I don’t know how. She’ll be mad at me if I tell her parents. How can I help her?
-Kaitlin




Dear Kaitlin,

It sounds like your friend is depressed about something but she’s not willing to share this with you. I would be surprised if her parents haven’t noticed this as well. Maybe the only way you can help her is to talk to her parents. She may get mad at you but she needs help and this is the way she can get it. You are her friend and she needs you. If she gets the help she needs then she will realize that as her friend you were there for her. Do what’s best for her.

Good luck.
-Sara

Smoking Son

Dear Sara,

I used to smoke but after several tries, I managed to quit. I know what a hard habit it is to kick. I’m pretty sure I’ve smelled smoke on my fourteen-year-old son. I just don’t want him to get hooked on cigarettes like I did. I told him I didn’t want him to smoke and he said he wouldn’t. When I confronted him he denied he’d been smoking. He said some of his friends smoked so that was what I smelled. I can’t keep him from doing what he wants when he’s not at home but I sure don’t want him to have the habit like I did. Is there anything I can do?
-George




Dear George,

Fourteen-year-olds want to be part of the group and if his friends are smoking it might be difficult for your son to say no. Even though there is lots of evidence about the dangers of smoking I see kids on the street smoking their cigarettes. It may be a way of asserting their independence and there was a time when it was a sign of being sophisticated.

You can’t control your son when he is out with his friends but maybe you could offer him some kind of reward if he waits until he graduates from high school to consider smoking. He will be more mature then and may be wise enough to see the dangers of smoking cigarettes. You know what kinds of things that your son would find attractive. He might want money or a car or some other prize. This might be one way to keep him from developing a hard to break habit.
-Sara

Giving It Another Shot

Dear Sara,

I’ve been divorced for ten years and have been raising my three kids by myself. They are teens now and seem to be doing well for the most part. My ex-husband was a really bad alcoholic and abusive. He’s been in the kids lives off and on and they’ve managed to get along without him. He has come to me recently and said that he has been sober for the last year and would like another chance to make out marriage work. I still care about him but I don’t trust him. Do you think this would work?
-Mary Elizabeth




Dear Mary Elizabeth,

Trust is an important part of marriage. It could take a long time to build that trust again. If your ex-husband stays sober then you could possibly make things work again but you don’t have any guarantees on that. One year of sobriety is not a very long time in the life of an alcoholic. You also have to consider your children. They went through some rough time too if they saw their father abuse you. Don’t rush into anything. You don’t have to make any kind of commitment until you see how your ex behaves himself. You’ve lived without him for ten years so take lots of time to see if you want to take a chance again.
-Sara

Friend Needs Help

Dear Sara,

I don’t know whether to be worried or not. I am sixteen and my best friend is not acting right. She won’t tell me what’s wrong but she cries a lot and only wants to stay at home. She had a boyfriend at the beginning of summer but she didn’t seem too sad when they broke up. I want to help her but I don’t know how. She’ll be mad at me if I tell her parents. How can I help her?
-Kaitlin




Dear Kaitlin,

It sounds like your friend is depressed about something but she’s not willing to share with you. I would be surprised if her parents haven’t noticed this as well. Maybe the only way to help her is to talk to her parents and let them know how worried you are about your friend. They are the ones who can see that she gets the help she needs. She may get mad at you but she needs help and this is the way she can get it. You are her friend and she needs you. If she gets the help she needs then she will realize that as her friend you were there for her. Do what is best for her.
-Sara

Head Lice Concerns

Dear Sara,

My daughter is in second grade and has a special friend that she plays with a lot. They talk on the phone and sometimes spend the night at each other’s homes. I found out from school that some of the kids have head lice and the last time my daughter’s friend came to the house I saw her scratching her head several times. My daughter wants to invite her over to spend the night but I’m really worried. I don’t want to have to deal with head lice. How should I deal with this?
-Taylor




Dear Taylor,

It might be a good idea to check with your daughter’s friend’s Mom to see if what you suspect is true. If her friend does have head lice It would be best to postpone overnights for a while.

Head lice is very contagious and often found in bed linens of an infected child. You need to let your daughter know that she shouldn’t share things like hats, coats and hair ribbons. Head lice are also found on things like beds, couches, pillows, stuffed animals and the rug. You need to check your daughter once or twice a week since children often don’t think about their actions when they are playing.

The adult louse is no bigger than a sesame seed and is brownish tan. They lay nits on the hair shaft close to the skin surface. Nits look similar to dandruff but are attached to the hair shaft. You can use a magnifying glass and bright light to help you spot them. There are over the counter remedies to help combat them.

Remember, head lice is not a sign of poor hygiene, but once you get them they can be difficult to get rid of.

Good luck.
-Sara

Mother Daughter Quarrels

Dear Sara,

My sixteen-year-old daughter and I have a really difficult time getting along. We disagree about everything from her not getting up in the morning to staying up too late at night. If I say black she says white. She actually ran away from home for five days one time. No matter what I say she gets offended. My husband isn’t any help at all. He just watches TV or reads his paper. I try to do things to make her like me but she just seems to turn it into a battle. I can’t just let go and let her do what she wants because I’m afraid of what she might do. How do I manage to get along with her?
-Emily




Dear Emily,

Your daughter seems to be struggling for her independence. If you are trying to tell her every little thing she should do you might want to check yourself and ease up a bit. Try to listen to what she is trying to tell you. If she wants something outrageous it’s OK to say no but try to let her make some of her own decisions. They may not be right for you but as long as she won’t do any harm leave her alone. Your husband seems to be trying to stay out of the battle but have you included him by asking him his opinion? If things don’t quiet down you might consider some family counseling. It sounds like some outside help would be beneficial
-Sara