Injury Prone Baby

Dear Sara,

I have a nine month old baby who is just starting to walk. She has a tendency to get into everything if I don’t watch her. I usually keep her in the living room where everything is put away and there is nothing she can get into. the problem is that my mother-in-law wants to baby sit and her house is very cluttered and not very clean. I just can’t see leaving my baby with her. She keeps asking me and I always say no. I would like to have a free baby sitter but I am afraid my baby will get hurt. What should I do?

Dear Maddie,

You are right to be cautious. Your baby’s safety comes first. Apparently, your mother-in-law managed to raise your husband successfully so she must know a little bit about caring for babies. As she got older with no babies around she probably has become lax with her housekeeping. Maybe you could explain your worry about your baby’s safety and offer to help her clean and baby proof a room or two. If she still doesn’t understand, you can keep telling her “no.” It sounds like she loves your baby and would be willing to cooperate.

Ditching The Phones

Dear Sara,

I have three grade-school children. Early on they wanted their own cell phones and after a while, I gave in because this seems to be what everybody else was doing. This has kind of gotten out of control since their nose is always stuck to their phone and it’s hard to have a decent conversation with them. I feel like I am losing out when they spend so much time with their phone. How can I get some family time with my kids?

Dear Gerald,

You do have control over your kids’ phones since you pay the bills. First set some rules like no phones at meal times or when you are in the car. These are the times when they should turn their phone off and have some conversation with you. If their lack of attention bothers you, you can make whatever rule you think is relevant. If they don’t cooperate you have a perfect right to cut off their phone service but be sure you are there and give them your attention as well.

Kids need activities like sports or dancing or whatever their interests are. If they are busy and interested in life they will grow up more well rounded. Don’t let media steal your kids.

Age Difference Concerns

Dear Sara,

I am a thirty-seven-year-old mother of two teen daughters. I lost my husband in a car accident ten years ago and have been trying to raise the girls by myself. At that young age, my husband didn’t leave any insurance so we struggled financially. I inherited some money from my grandmother and decided to go to college to study accounting. While I was there I met a man that I really care about. The problem is that he is only twenty-five. My girls like him and treat him like they do their friends. This is somewhat uncomfortable for me. Do you think a relationship like this could work?
-Carol Lee

Dear Carol Lee,

It sounds like you need to give this relationship some time. Your girls obviously like your young man so this is a plus because children often resent their parents’ new relationship. You also have had time to grieve and heal from losing your husband so tragically.

Whether or not a relationship with a twelve-year difference will survive, only time will tell. If you are uncomfortable with his relationship with your daughters, you could ask yourself why. Is it because he has more in common with them than with you? Sometimes you can have an attraction to someone but still not have common interests. This is not an especially good omen for a relationship. Take your time and see how things work out.

Married To A Controlling Man

Dear Sara,

I came to the USA eleven years ago as married but my husband started to abuse me financially when I wasn’t speaking or understanding English. He made me sign a prenuptial and he always scares me telling me I will be in trouble and not giving me any access to any bank account or money. A week ago he attacked me because I found a telephone that I didn’t know about that was all about women and cheating. The neighbors saw him hitting me and called the police and he was arrested. Now he wants me to forgive him and not show up at court. I told him you have to take me to a lawyer so you can cancel the prenuptial that I did not sign but he refused. What should I do in this case? He makes the kids cry every day telling them mommy is taking me to court.

Dear Silva,

It sounds like you have married a very controlling man. If your husband brought you here and married you he may have signed the government document I-864 which says that he will be responsible for you financially while you are in the United States. It also sounds like your prenuptial agreement might not be valid if you did not have your own attorney present when you signed. I don’t have a legal background so you need to go online and find an immigration attorney in your area to help you.

If your husband hit you once and you just let it go, he will most likely hit you again. If you don’t go to court he will likely hit you again. He is trying to use your children to get you to cooperate. Try to reassure them that you love them and hope they will understand that you need to take care of yourself. You don’t want them to grow up thinking it’s OK for a husband to hit his wife.

Good luck.

Getting Used To A New City

Dear Sara,

My husband is in management at a big company and was just promoted so we moved to a new city. We have two teen sons in high school. The problem is that we are black and the neighborhood we moved into is white and I feel like a total outsider. I gave up a part-time job when we moved and the neighbors here don’t seem very friendly. I miss my friends and don’t seem to be making new ones. What should I do?

Dear Ella,

I am not sure your color is the problem with your neighbors. It seems that these days both couples work and the old neighborhoods where everybody knew each other and got together are few and far between.

It’s going to be up to you to get involved in community activities if you want to meet people and make friends. There are things you can do to meet people and make friends like volunteer at your kid’s school, join the neighborhood association if there is one or find some charitable group that needs your help. It’s normal to miss your friends and family that you left behind and this has got to be difficult for you. If you follow your interests then you will probably meet potential friends.

Good luck.

Something Has Changed

Dear Sara,

My daughter is a senior in high school this year. She was dating one of the football players at her high school and seemed happy most of the time. They broke up recently and she has changed. She cut her hair off. She had long black really pretty hair and she just cut it herself, really short. She dresses differently too and doesn’t fix herself up much. She also dropped a class he was in. So far she hasn’t confided in me but this is such a big change that I am really worried about her. How can I help?
-Rae Ann

Dear Rae Ann,

It does sound like something bad happened between your daughter and the football jock and she seems really traumatized by it. If she’s not ready to talk about it there probably isn’t much you can do at this point except to be there for her if she decides she wants to talk.

She may need someone to talk to who she thinks will be objective so you might want to find a therapist who is good with teens who might be able to get her to unload whatever is bothering her.

She really needs someone to confide in about this but she might feel that you would be emotional or critical of what she has to say. It might take a while for her to get through this so give her some room and be patient with her and be willing to listen to whatever she has to say.

My grandson is only five and out of control

Dear Sara,

You sent out an article about raising children. The one thing that stood out was about discipline. Things to overlook and things that need discipline. You stated something like if it’s not something you want him to be doing when he is a teenager then the problem needs to be addressed now. My grandson is five now and screams “I hate you” to his Mom, throws things etc. It happened last night. I asked him to put his phone away and stop playing games so we could eat dinner. I turned off the TV. He was terribly rude to me. He took food off his plate and threw it on the chair. Where was Dad? In the bedroom. Is it time for counseling? Thank you.

Dear Lynda,

It sounds like your grandson has been allowed to get away with being rude to his parents and now this is the way he deals with things when he doesn’t get his way. Maybe his father has been overruled in his discipline so he just stays out of the way. If you are consistent in making your grandson behave, he will probably have some respect for you so keep it up.

Your daughter and son in law are the ones who have to step up and react to their son’s temper tantrums unless you take care of him on a regular basis. His behavior certainly won’t get any better if they allow it to continue. Once they let him know that there will be consequences for his behavior and follow through their son will change but it will take time. Parenting classes would probably be a better option than counseling.

If they need a book you could recommend “Parenting Isn’t For Cowards” by Dr. James C. Dobson

Son With ADHD

Dear Sara,

My son has been struggling in school and was finally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I have known for some time that he had problems sitting still and concentrating but other times when things really interested him he could pay attention for hours so I really didn’t suspect ADHD. He takes medication now and isn’t quite so hyper so things seem better. What do I need to know to help my son?

Dear Jan,

Apparently, ADHD is not a behavior disorder but a developmental problem with the brain’s self-management system. Current numbers indicate it impacts about nine percent of children and about five percent of adults.

Long-term studies have shown that individuals with ADHD during childhood experience significant reductions in their ADD impairment as they grow older. Research has shown that ADHD is not a chemical imbalance in the brain so supplements of certain vitamins and minerals won’t positively affect ADHD. People with ADHD don’t release enough essential neurotransmitters that allow passage of information to the brain.

The way to help your son is to pay attention to his abilities, help him with his homework and listen to his frustrations. Hopefully, things will be better as he grows older.

Something Needs To Change

Dear Sara,

I have raised my four children and I think I did a pretty good job. They all seem to be doing OK financially and seem happy with their life.

My husband and I have very little in common and often eat dinner without any conversation except “pass the beans.” We sometimes see friends on the weekends but other than that my life is totally boring. I can’t complain because I have everything I want but I am totally bored. I could go back to school but that’s going to be expensive or I could get a job but I haven’t worked for so long that I doubt anyone would hire me. I don’t know what I want but I need something to change. How can I do this?

Dear Theresa,

The first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment with your doctor and get a physical. It sounds like you may be depressed. You may need some hormone therapy as well.

Once you get that taken care of think back to your younger days and see if there were goals that you had back then that you could work on now. Were you interested in art or hiking or helping others? There are lots of things that could get you out of the house and back into a more interesting life.

If you don’t think you can get a job, why don’t you try volunteer work? You may learn some skills there that could lead to a job.

Your husband may find you more interesting if you have interesting things to do.

Baby Found A Home

Dear Sara,

I read the letter from Carol and I just wanted to let her know that I have found a home for my baby. When I told my oldest sister about my pregnancy, she said that she would adopt my baby. She’s a nurse and has wanted to work for a while before she started a family so she doesn’t have kids yet.

She made me agree to let her raise my baby her way and not interfere with her parenting. I am willing to do this as long as I get to see my baby sometimes. Tell Carol that I will pray for her too.

Dear Brittany,

I am glad that things worked out well for you. This seems like a good solution to your problem. I hope you will stay in school and be a good role model for your baby.

Good luck.