21-Year-Old Daughter Needs A Reality Check

Dear Sara,

My daughter is twenty one and still lives at home. She thinks of herself as independent since she has a job but she doesn’t pay rent, eats her meals here and doesn’t do her own laundry. I want her to keep decent hours and let me know when she will be here or not. She said she would like her privacy and that I shouldn’t ask questions. Who is right here?


Dear Mona,

You are both right. At twenty one your daughter should be independent. You should expect her to pay rent, buy her own food and do her own laundry. If she is disrespectful to you then she should move out and find her own place. This would give her plenty of privacy. She needs a reality check. If she wants to be independent then she has to act like it.


Babysitter Needs Help

Dear Sara,

I am a baby sitter for three children ages six, three and eighteen months. The six-year-old wants constant attention. He seems to be in my face all of the time. He will drive his toy car around in a circle until I can’t stand it anymore and have to demand that he stop. He wears pull-ups at night because he wets the bed and has temper tantrums in the morning. He is in kindergarten half a day and can print his name but chooses not to at times. The only time he is calm is when he watches TV but his parents have set a limit on this. What can I do to get him to calm down?


Dear Margaret,

It sounds like this young man has figured out that the only way to get your attention away from his siblings (who are younger and possibly cuter) is to be annoying. As the oldest, he was probably the center of his parents’ attention for about three years and now he has been displaced by his two younger siblings. It sounds like the two younger kids need lots of your attention but try to make a special effort to pay attention to their older brother. If you can ignore some of his pesky behaviors and focus on the things that he does to please you, that could make some difference in his behavior.

It’s also possible that this young man has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which could make it difficult for him to sit still and pay attention. Often kids who have ADHD will be able to sit still for TV and games but in general, they have the problems that you describe. His parents may want to have him evaluated by a professional to see if he truly has ADHD or if he is just somewhat immature. Try to be patient. It appears that he is having a difficult time in his young life.


My Kids Are Inactive…

Dear Sara,

I have two kids ages seven and ten. They are doing well in school and I am proud of them but they are really inactive. I work a lot and don’t have a lot of time to spend with them but I would like for them to be healthy and fit. What’s a good thing for them to do?


Dear Paul,

Your kids really need you as a role model. I can guess that you are pretty tired when you get home from work but take an hour or so to walk with them or throw a ball around. You could put up a volleyball net and encourage the kids to invite their friends over. Not only are you helping to keep your kids fit but you are also building a relationship with them. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.


My Kids are Leaving the Nest – Should We Have Another Baby?

Dear Sara,

My husband and I have been married for almost twenty years. Our four kids are now in their teens and will be off to college and on their own soon. I really would like to have another baby but my husband says “absolutely not.” He said that he wants to do his own thing now and not be tied to changing diapers and kids’ activities. How can I make him see my side of this?


Dear Karen,

Watching your kids leave home is not always an easy time for a Mom. It can be really emotionally painful and you seem to be anticipating this already. You will just be postponing the inevitable by having another baby. Your husband needs to have a say in this also. Apparently he is not willing to make the financial and emotional investment it takes to raise another child. He may want to take things a little easier now that his kids are almost out of the house.

If you can’t make him see your point of view (and he sounds pretty adamant) then you might want to think about other ways to fulfill your maternal instinct. Think about the different facilities that care for children in your area. Check online for volunteer opportunities. There are so many children who could use someone on one help. Put all the skills you have learned to use as a volunteer and let your husband have his time for himself.


Should I Buy My Kids A New Car?

Dear Sara,

My daughter is seventeen and has had a driver’s license for less than a year. She and her brother shared an older car and could use it for going to school and school-related events. She backed out of the driveway without looking and was broadsided by a car going down the street. Luckily no one was hurt. The car is not worth fixing up so they are having to ride the school bus and I have to take them to school events. Sometimes they ride with friends and I am not comfortable with that. She and her brother are pestering me to get them another car. Not only will I have to pay for the car but will have to pay the insurance on it. What’s the best way to deal with this?

-Aggravated Mom

Dear Mom,

You are so lucky your daughter and the other driver are OK. I hope she has learned a lesson. You might think about waiting for a while to purchase another car so the lesson sinks in. If they get an allowance or babysitting money they should be responsible for gas in the car and whatever else they can afford. Let your kids know how much things cost. They need to be prepared for when they are on their own.


My Son Is Cruel To Animals

Dear Sara,

I have a problem that is very distressing to me. My six-year-old son can be extremely cruel to animals. I have seen him kick a dog out of his way and sling a cat around by the tail. I am very tenderhearted and have tried to tell him that this is really wrong but it doesn’t sink in. He wants a pet but as long as I see things like this the answer will be “no.” How can I get across to him that this is wrong?


Dear Lee,

It sounds like there have been more than the two incidents that you have mentioned. If this is true then your son could have a mental health issue that would need to be dealt with by a psychiatrist. If there were no other incidents then he could be a typical six-year-old who hasn’t developed the ability to feel sympathetic toward other living creatures.

If he really wants a pet you might take him to see animals from the Humane Society who need homes. If he can find a pet to love then maybe he will feel empathy for other animals. Let him know that if he abuses his new pet that you will take it away. Continue to let him know that pets can feel pain the same as he does. I hope that you can help him feel empathy for his new pet and other animals.


Not Ready For This Baby

Dear Sara,

I’ve been married a little over a year and have just found my perfect job after looking for quite a while. Now I find that I am pregnant. I really wasn’t planning this at all. We had decided to wait until we were established in our jobs and had saved for a down payment on a house. My husband blames me and wants me to get an abortion. I just can’t do that. How can I deal with all of this?


Dear J.J.

I’m sure that your husband is disappointed that his plan has failed but I would guess that he will eventually adjust to the fact that he is going to be a father. It seems these days a great number of women have babies and a career as well. It won’t be easy for you especially if your husband is not supportive but you know in your heart that this is what you want.

It may take longer to achieve your goal but you wouldn’t be happy if you went along with your husband’s wishes and had an abortion. I know you haven’t been married long but you might want to consider marriage counseling if your husband continues to think that your pregnancy is all your fault.


My Life Is A Mess

Dear Sara,

My life is a mess. I’ve been married ten years and we are financially well off, live in a nice house and our two kids go to a private school. The problem is my husband. He drinks all the time, often doesn’t come home for dinner and has had numerous affairs. I don’t think I can put up with his behavior much longer but I’m afraid of how a divorce will affect my children. Which is worse? A divorce or living in a home with a father who seems to be totally self-centered and making me miserable?


Dear Laura,

Living in a home with an alcoholic is very difficult especially for children who have no control of things. There is chaos around them and I’m sure that your anger and possible depression has been difficult for them to deal with as well. Before you make any decision why don’t you try some family therapy? Your husband may not want to attend but your children might be able to express their feelings and give you an idea of what they want their lives to be like. This way you won’t be making your decision by yourself and will able to see the effect you and your husband are having on them.


Overwhelmed With New Baby

Dear Sara,

I have a new baby and she cries all of the time. I am exhausted and depressed. Sometimes I have to grit my teeth just to take care of her and I feel angry because I can’t rest. My husband works long hours and we are financially dependent on his salary. I feel really alone and I need help. What can I do?


Dear Brittany,

The good part is that this stage in a baby’s life doesn’t last forever. The bad part is that you sound very much alone here. You need to talk to your husband about the way you are feeling. This isn’t good for you or your baby. Let him know that you can’t handle this alone anymore and that you have to have some help. You didn’t mention either grandmother. Would one of them be able to help out some of the time? If this isn’t possible then see if you can hire someone to help out part-time.

You do need someone to help out but you also need to talk to someone about your anger and depression. Let your doctor know how you are feeling and ask him about medication or a professional to talk to. It sounds like you may have postpartum depression which can be serious. Don’t try to handle all of this alone. Your husband may be so involved in work that he is unable to see how desperate you are. Get his attention and be very assertive in letting him know how you feel.


My Teenage Son Has Gotten His Girlfriend Pregnant

Dear Sara,

My teenage son has gotten his girlfriend pregnant. We have had numerous talks about abstinence, safe sex and not getting a girl pregnant. He’s too young to get married and his girlfriend is too immature to raise a child. I don’t want my grandchild to be put up for adoption but I have a full-time job that I need to support me and my son. The other grandmother doesn’t want to raise this child. What can I do?


Dear Carrie,

This may be out of your hands and I think that you already know this. If your son’s girlfriend is willing to give up her baby for adoption then this is probably what will happen. Her Mom knows her daughter best and can also see her immaturity. It may be important to the Mom that her daughter continues school without the distraction of a baby. Whatever happens now, you don’t have a choice. All you can do is be supportive of your son. I would say that the young couple getting married would not be an option since they are still totally dependent on their parents. This is a teenage romance and it may not last forever. I hope that the two teens will be mature enough to decide to give their baby to a loving and mature family.