Smoking Pot With Friends

Dear Sara,

I have a son who is fifteen. I came home from work early a couple of weeks ago and walked in on him and his friend smoking pot. He told me that they were just experimenting and promised he wouldn’t do it again. Last week I found a half-smoked joint in his jacket pocket. He says he and his friends like to get high when they get bored and it’s no big deal. I’ve raised him by myself since he was five and haven’t had a problem until now. What can I do to stop him?

Dear Nora,

Let your son know that smoking pot is not safe. Kids who smoke pot can become paranoid and have anxiety attacks. There is evidence that pot can cause long term lung and brain damage. It can also lead to a desire to try more dangerous addictive drugs.

Also, let your son know that drug use of any kind is unacceptable and that there will be consequences such as no unsupervised activities for a month. You can contact his friends’ parents and let them know that the boys shouldn’t be allowed to hang out unless they are supervised. Try to get your son in supervised activities after school such as sports. You might have him do some volunteer work weekly at a physical rehabilitation facility where many of the patients have drug-related injuries. One other thing you can do is be aware of the scent of pot on your son’s clothes or breath. Check his room for pot-related things.

Some signs of drug use are mood swings, stealing money or valuable items, curfew violation, dilated pupils, excessive sleepiness or hunger, being verbally or physically abusive to others. Hopefully, you can stop this before it gets too addictive.

Pretecting Kids From Judgmental Family

Dear Sara,

I have three children ages two, four and seven. My parents constantly criticized me and made me feel inadequate when I was growing up. I still have low self-esteem. I want them to have a good relationship with their grandparents but they are also very critical of their grandchildren. How should I handle this?

Dear Millie,

It’s sad that your parents made you feel inadequate and I’m glad that you recognize that you have a problem. If you haven’t had a talk with your parents then this would need to be the first item on your list. Let them know how you felt about their criticism and its effect on you. If they deny that they were critical or justify their criticism as being in your best interest, try to explain the negative effect this has had on you.

Try to help them understand that this is a very negative way to raise children. Let them know that you won’t tolerate your children being treated this way. You can let them know that your visits will be fewer if they can’t be more positive with your children.

Make sure that your children have your love and support in whatever they do. They will grow up with the self-esteem that you missed in your childhood even without their grandparents’ support. I hope you will learn to praise yourself when you do a good job. You can model this behavior for your children.

Putting Son On ADHD Medication

Dear Sara,

My son is eight years old. He has always been hyperactive so when he started to school this became a problem for his teachers. He is very bright and seems to learn easily but his grades are only average as he has trouble finishing his assignments. He loves video games and is able to focus on them for some reason or other. His pediatrician said that he has ADHD and wants to put him on medication for this. I’m a little worried about this. What do you think?

Dear Rachel,

The medication for attention deficit hyperactive disorder actually works to speed up the part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System. When the RAS is under active it does not perform its customary function of helping regulate and focus behavior. When children are given the stimulant Ritalin (or other meds of a similar nature) it appears to have the opposite effect of calming them down. If you want to try medication make sure that you are aware of all of the side effects. Discuss this with your pediatrician and keep a close watch on your son. Some children appear to outgrow their ADHD while for others it lasts into adulthood. Your son will have an easier time in school if he can pay attention.

Wife Caught In The Act

Dear Sara,

My wife was arrested last week for prostitution and I had to go down and bail her out. She told me that she was meeting her friends and they were going to a movie. She usually does this once or twice a month so I didn’t think anything about it. I had no clue that anything like that was going on. Sometimes she drinks too much but she’s a really good Mom to our three kids. I hope the kids don’t ever find out about this. I really don’t know how to deal with this. I still love my wife but I can’t put up with this kind of behavior. What should I do?

Dear Jacob,

It sounds like your wife might have some mental health issues. If she feels compelled to do this she could have problems in the future. Have a talk with her and try to find out her reason for doing this. You may want to find a therapist who is qualified to deal with these kinds of issues and encourage her to get some help. If you still love your wife you can at least give her the chance to change her behavior. It’s going to be hard to get your trust back. Let her know that you can’t let your children be exposed to behavior like this.

Disputes On Where To Live

Dear Sara,

I live in a small town. I grew up here and it’s a beautiful place to live. I have a job teaching third grade and I love it. I’ve been dating the same guy since high school and we got engaged this year and we plan to be married when he gets his MD. He’s really smart and will make a great pediatrician. He want to move to New York and set up practice there and has friends who want him to join in their practice. I just don’t think I could live and raise my children in all that commotion and he doesn’t want to practice medicine in a small town. This just seems to be a problem that can’t be solved. What can I do besides break up with him?

Dear Megan,

You have had a great relationship up until now. Why don’t you visit New York a few times? There may be places around New York where you could feel comfortable. Don’t let this be such a black and white situation. You are used to small-town life so it would be a big adjustment to live in a big city. Do some exploring with your fiance and see if there are some areas around New York where things aren’t so busy. Take your time and explore a bit. It may be hard on your fiance to commute but if you give a bit and he gives a bit maybe you could make it work. It would be a shame to lose a relationship that has lasted this long.

Good luck.

Dad In Dire Need Of Peace

Dear Sara,

I’ve been married fifteen years and things have been going very well up until now. I have a good job, we bought a house and the kids are in private school. My wife was in a terrible wreck and is bedridden and we don’t know if she will walk again. She ran a red light and the other guy is in bad shape too. I am in charge of everything including housework, cooking and seeing that the kids get to school. I have some part-time help with my wife so that she is not alone when I go to work but I have to take care of her the rest of the time. She’s angry and demanding and I understand but it’s really getting to me. With all the other expenses I don’t think I can hire more help. I feel trapped. The kids just seem to avoid her. What can I do to have some peace in my life?

Dear Mike,

This dreadful accident has certainly turned your life upside down. Your wife is justifiably angry for being helpless and probably angry at herself for putting everyone in this position. It will take a while to accept her life as it is. Hopefully, she will gain back her ability to walk but it will take time and hard work.

Have you thought about taking the kids out of private school and freeing up that money for more help? This is not the best time for this but you sound desperate and they will adjust. If you have more help then you could spend more time with them. I think they need that now.

Modern Day Dennis The Menace

Dear Sara,

My kids are grown and out of the house. My problem is a little seven year old who lives on my block. On weekends he seems to have no boundaries or discipline. He’s out in all kinds of weather and is often in his neighbors’ yards and doesn’t mind getting into everybody’s things. He has let my dog out of the backyard a couple of times and I had to go find him. The other neighbors have similar complaints. I know I need to speak to his parents but I don’t want bad feelings with my neighbors. What should I do?

Dear Josie,

The little seven year old is doing what is normal for a seven-year-old, investigating and exploring. It’s not safe for him to be out and about unsupervised. Why don’t you bake a cake or some cookies and visit his parents? It will seem more like a friendly visit than a visit to complain about their son. Let them know what a nice boy he is but that there have been some problems with him roaming the neighborhood unsupervised. They might get angry and defensive but at least they will know there is a problem. He will eventually get in trouble if he is allowed to roam free. Don’t be afraid to call CPS if he remains unsupervised.

Recent Death Of Husband

Dear Sara,

My husband was killed in a car wreck about five months ago. We had enough insurance to pay for his funeral expenses and enough for me and my kids to live on for about six or eight months more. We have a house that I have to pay payments on. It’s going to be hard to get a job with the little experience I have and I have two preschoolers to take care of. My parents live in another state and I don’t really get along with them. I can see that I am going to have to sell the house but the money from that won’t last forever. I feel confused and alone. What are my options?

Dear Abbie,

I know it’s hard but you are going to have to face facts and learn how to support yourself. If you have to sell your home to have money to live on, this won’t last forever and if you get a job you will have to pay a sitter or daycare for your children. Your best option might be to move back home and live with your parents until you get training or education so that you can support yourself. Your money will eventually run out. If you don’t think about it now you will probably end up with your parents anyway.

Take care of yourself and your kids. Things will get better with time.

Helping With Reading Difficulties

Dear Sara,

My son is in fourth grade now and he seems to have difficulty reading things meant for his age group. I have been trying to get him to read out loud to me and I can see how difficult it is for him. He’s not very interested in school things and would rather play games on the computer. He does OK with things like math but anything that requires reading he just barely passes. Is there any way I can help him?

Dear Molly,

Have you had your son’s eyes tested lately? If it’s hard for him to see the words he’s at a big disadvantage. You might also have him checked for dyslexia. His brain may be making it hard for him to read. If the problem is that he’s just not interested and would rather play on the computer then you will have to use his computer time as a reward for working on his reading skills. You could buy a couple of books for his age group that might be interesting to him and let him know that he has to read to you for a half hour before he can play on the computer. Reading is important in any job he will have.

Life After Being A Stay At Home Mom

Dear Sara,

I decided to be a stay at home Mom when I started having children and my husband agreed with me. Now my children are grown and have lives of their own and are doing well. They don’t need me anymore and I understand this. I want my children to be independent and happy. I have a lot of free time and I would like to go to college. My husband disagrees with this strongly so I would be going against his wishes if I decided to go back to school. He said it’s too expensive and not necessary. How can I convince him it’s necessary for me?

Dear Lauren,

It sounds like you have always done your best for your family and your husband feels threatened because you are doing something that would make you more independent. It will not be easy for you to go against his wishes since this is what he has come to expect. You probably won’t be able to convince him that you need something else in your life. If this is something that you really want then go for it. What you want is important too.