Trying To Work With Kids At Home – HELP!

Dear Sara,

Because of the Coronavirus I am stuck at home with four kids. I have played games with them and tried to keep them entertained but I still have to work remotely. While I am working they get into fights and otherwise demand my attention. I am losing patience with them and don’t know how much more of this I can take. What can I do to make this at home thing more manageable?

Dear Trudi,

It sounds like you’re doing pretty well except for when you have to work. Sit down with your kids and work out a daily schedule. You might consider only letting them watch TV when you are working. That way it will be a treat rather than the usual. If there is something they really like for you to do with them, use that as a reward for being cooperative while you work. There also needs to be some negative things that will happen if they don’t cooperate. Your older kids might be able to entertain the younger ones for a while if you give them some extra allowance. Hang in there.

Wife Is Leaving After 25 Years

Dear Sara,

I have been married for twenty-five years and my wife is leaving me. I can’t tell you what a shock this is. She waited until all of the kids were raised and on their own and said that she did her job and now she’s done. I know I am not the best husband. I’m about fifty pounds overweight and I smoke a lot. I said I would change but she said it wouldn’t make any difference, she just wanted to be free. It’s not very manly but I cry a lot. What should I do?


Dear Carl,

It sounds like your wife has made up her mind so it’s up to you to take care of yourself. It’s OK to cry and grieve and with time you will gradually feel better. I’m sure your doctor would agree with me that you need to lose the fifty pounds and quit smoking. Don’t sit at home and dwell on your sorrow. Join a gym and start taking care of yourself. You still have time to find somebody else who can be part of your life.


Coronavirus Blues – I’m losing my mind

Dear Sara,

I feel like I am losing my mind. I am cooped up with three kids who are used to going to school and daycare. I can’t go to my job because of a virus of all things. When I got married I told my husband that I really didn’t want kids. He really wanted kids so we agreed we would send our kids to a daycare so that I could work at a job that I love. Now it’s all my job to take care of the kids for who knows how long. They are already restless and I don’t know what to do. How do I cope with this?


Dear Shawna,

It sounds like you are used to working and organizing things. Why don’t you make a list of things for the kids to do? Let them help you. It could be interesting and fun to see what they come up with. Divide the day into sections and include one section where everybody goes to their room to nap or rest. You can have a section for schoolwork, TV, or outdoor play. If the kids are involved in the plan they won’t be so cranky when they don’t get their way. Make sure your husband spends his free time with them as well. Keep in touch with your friends and co-workers by phone or internet. You don’t have much choice but to bear with it. Good luck.

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?


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.


I’m Afraid For My Daughter…

Dear Sara,

I think that my fifteen-year-old daughter is in an abusive relationship. She has come home with bruises on her arms a couple of times and denied her boyfriend did it but there is mostly what I would call emotional abuse. If she doesn’t cooperate then he pulls away, won’t talk to her and puts her in the deep freeze. This seems to be effective with her. He insults her and tells her that she is stupid in e-mails that I have seen. I know that this isn’t good for her but how do I stop it.

Dear Roxanne,

Your daughter really needs your support right now. If her boyfriend is abusive you have the right to make her stop seeing him but she needs the self-esteem to make him behave differently. Once he has control it will be difficult to get him to change. She needs to be able to confide in you so be careful to let her talk without making any judgements.

If things don’t change then you need to set limits on your daughter to keep her away from this young man. She is too young to handle this by herself. Let her know if you see any sign of bruises or verbal abuse that she will not be allowed to see this guy any more.Your daughter may need some counseling to get over this abusive relationship. It’s important that she doesn’t get the idea that she is not good enough.

Cutting Off Toxic Parents

Hi Sara,

My daughter is struggling with a dilemma which is not uncommon. My granddaughter is now fifteen and no longer wants to visit her father. The man is a complete narcissist in every way and she feels she can no longer relate to him on any level. Therefore she is uncomfortable being with him and his new wife. Being as it is, he’s putting the responsibility back on my daughter which is causing her great anxiety. She tries to be encouraging to her daughter to remain open with her father but she says, and it’s true, that he is unwilling to take any responsibility. He simply puts it back on everyone else. My granddaughter is an honor student, has good friends, is not delinquent and is well adjusted to have been through her parents divorce. She is also in counseling and goes with her mother as well.

Her mother is seeing a new friend and her ex has threatened to take her back to court if she allows my granddaughter to be around him. Of course there is a back story to this but the bottom lines, why should he be allowed to continue to control them both when he has moved on with his life. What do you suggest that my daughter can do that would help relieve her stress and anxiety.
-Concerned Grandpa

Dear Concerned Grandpa,

Your granddaughter sounds very mature for her age and capable of making good decisions for herself. If she chooses to not visit her father then her wishes should be honored. Your daughter is trying to get on with her life and her ex is still trying to control her and make her life miserable. The only way her ex will leave her alone is if she fights back. Unless there is something serious in her boyfriend’s background, she needs to get a lawyer and be willing to go to court. If she continues to be strong and not let him bully her, he will eventually give up. If she can take control of the situation and fight back, she should feel better.

Does My Child Need Counseling?

Dear Sara,

I have an eight-year-old granddaughter who has been through a lot for her age. My question is, how do I deal with her being disrespectful, not only to her mother and me but to her teachers as well. She will not stay in her seat and stomps her feet and disrupts the entire class. She’s taking medication and the dose has been raised. All of her attitudes seem to occur in the mornings, afternoon she seems to behave in class. I think she needs a counselor. Thank you for your time.

Dear Cathy,

You are probably right that your granddaughter needs counseling but this is a decision that her parents need to make. When kids have problems in their lives that they don’t know how to handle, they often act out. They can be angry, disrespectful and hyperactive. Talk to her pediatrician or your local mental health facility to find someone qualified to work with children who have emotional problems and present this to your granddaughter’s parents. I know that this is difficult for you to see your granddaughter in such distress but her parents need to be the ones to make these choices. You can help her by giving her rewards for being good and taking away something that she likes if she is disrespectful to you.

Good luck.

My Heart Belong To Someone Else

Dear Sara,

I have been dating a man for about a year. He’s a great man and we are best friends. We each have teen daughters who get along well together. He has proposed but for some reason I am not able to give him an answer and I think it’s because I still have feelings for my daughter’s father. I was sixteen years old when I got pregnant and we never married. He moved away and I haven’t seen him for at least fifteen years but I still think about him. Should I marry this great guy when I’m not sure about my feelings are for another man?

Dear Casey

After ten years the man you loved enough to bear his child has probably gotten on with his life. There must have been some reason that you broke up with him. If you hang on to this fantasy you could mess up a really good relationship.Try to imagine your life without your best friend because this is what you would be giving up if you could return to your old flame. You could contact him and see how it feels but you could endanger your current relationship. Is this important enough to you to do this? Only you can decide.

Kids Addicted To Technology

Dear Sara,

My twelve-year-old son spends most of his free time on the computer playing games. He gets upset and angry when I try to interfere. I know that this is not good for him but I don’t know how to limit his time on the computer. What should I do? His Dad isn’t in the picture anymore so I am trying to parent by myself.

Dear Meredith,

At age twelve your son has figured out that if he gets angry and stubborn that you will back down and he can have his way. With no male authority figure to back you up, you are fighting an uphill battle. You are right in saying this is not good for your son. He is losing valuable time when he should be socializing or doing his school work. He is not dealing with the real world but a virtual world.

You may have to use some rewards and consequences. The stick and the carrot method. Probably the only consequence that you can use right now is to take away his equipment and reward him by giving it back when he agrees to something else besides play on his computer.

So the first thing you and he have to decide is what else he might be interested in. He might not be interested in traditional sports but maybe he would be willing to try something like martial arts. Try to get him to agree to some activity for an hour or two a week. He needs a more balanced life.

Four-year-old Son Has Started Stuttering

Dear Sara,

My four-year-old son has started stuttering. It gets worse when he’s tired and cranky. Apparently a grandfather on his Dad’s side had a stuttering problem all of his life. I don’t want this to happen to my son. Is there treatment available? Is he going to be affected his whole life?

Dear Sylvia,

Children often outgrow stuttering. What you need to keep in mind for now is the your son doesn’t need any pressure. If you can provide a relaxed environment and give him plenty of time to complete his sentences he will be less apt to stutter. Try not to demand perfection or act negatively when he stutters.

Some kids outgrow their stuttering so you may want to wait three to six month to have your son evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. With your patience and some time it’s possible that his stuttering could clear up on its own. Boys are more likely to have stuttering problems than girls and stuttering is a speech problem rather than an emotional or psychological problem.

I hope this clears up on its own but seek treatment if it doesn’t.