Pushing Piano Lessons

Dear Sara,

I have always loved the piano and still play almost every day. I have a son twelve and a daughter eight and started them on piano lessons when they were six years old. I insist that they practice every day and they are making good progress, however, they both complain constantly that they don’t want to do this anymore. My son is on the school baseball team and my daughter wants to spend time with her neighborhood friends. My husband says let them do their own thing, but I think that the discipline and learning music is good for them. What do you think?

Dear Sheila,

You love the music and playing the piano so you don’t understand how difficult it is to continue lessons and practice when you don’t really care for it. Your children seem to resent the time they have to spend and don’t really enjoy the piano like you do. Your kids are trying to tell you that they need to have a choice and you should listen.

I know your kids are young and you feel that they are making a mistake, but your husband may be right on this issue. Even if your kids don’t play the piano, I think they will be happy with a home filled with your music and remember it always.

Wild Teenage Son

Dear Sara,

My fourteen year old son is completely wild. I have no control over him at all. His father left us when he was five and he has done whatever he wanted since then. If I don’t give him what he wants, he hits me and thinks that the support money his father sends should be all his to spend. I love my son but this is getting to be more than I can deal with. How should I handle this?

Dear Edie,

Your son shouldn’t be allowed to abuse you. If he does it again, call the police. He’s a bully and learning fast that this is the way to get what he wants. It’s teaching him that it’s OK to hit a woman.

His father needs to assume some responsibility here. Maybe this is what your son wants and needs, attention from his father. If this isn’t possible then let your son know that if he doesn’t behave that you will go to court and put him in states care. This is called tough love. Your son seems to be intent on destroying his relationship with you. If his goal is to be with his father and his father rejects him, things could get worse.

If possible find a therapist that you can talk to and see if you can find some better ways to deal with your son. Good luck

Teenage Daughter Afraid Of School

Dear Sara,

My fifteen year old daughter is refusing to go to school. I have tried everything and she just won’t go. She either reads or plays on her computer and stays in her room and doesn’t want to talk about it. The only thing she has said is that she feels really nervous when she has to go to school. What can I do to help her?

Dear Laura,

At this point your daughter probably needs some professional help. Sounds like she is really anxious and could have a disorder called social phobia where any social situation makes her really uncomfortable. There are medications that will help her anxiety but you could also consider hypnosis. She may be worried about using hypnosis but it’s very relaxing and not scary at all.

Her social phobia needs to be addressed right away. Ask your family doctor or pediatrician if they can recommend someone in the mental health field who is qualified to help a teen with this condition.

Good luck.

Worn Out New Mom Needs Advice

Dear Sara,

I have two beautiful three month old twin boys. One is an easy going baby with an easy  disposition while the other seems to have colic and cries for three or four hours at a time. I am totally worn out. I can’t seem to get them on the same routine. When I took them back for their six week checkup my pediatrician said that colic was temporary and my baby would soon outgrow it. What am I going to do until then?
-Mary Ellen

Dear Mary Ellen,

Sounds like you need a break for a little while just so that you can have a rest from the constant pressure of needing to take care of one or the other of your babies. Do you have a Mom or sister who could take over for a couple of hours so that you  can take a get  out for a while?

There are some things you can try that might help with the colic. When you give him his bottle try one with a smaller hole in the nipple so that he is not swallowing air. It also helps to sit him up rather than having him lie back. Also burp him often.

Lots of babies seem to be soothed by a swing or being carried around in the kind of baby carrier that you wear. You could also try swaddling him or put a warm water bottle on his tummy. I’m not a big fan of pacifiers but if it works use it.

You could ask your pediatrician if there are any meds that might help or maybe a different formula. Babies grow up pretty fast. Hang in there.

My Daughter Is A Tattle Tale

Dear Sara,

My five year old daughter has become a terrible tattle tale. We live in a neighborhood with lots of children and she tattles to me and to the other kids parents. The other kids are becoming wary of playing with her. I’ve told her to stop doing this, but she keeps doing it. What can I do to make her stop?

Dear Jan,

Your daughter must get some kind of reward for this behavior, probably attention. Hopefully you can get rid of the behavior before she starts school because she certainly will have problems with the kids at school if she continues.

One way to extinguish the behavior would be to ignore it. Give the least amount of attention to this behavior that you can. Try to talk to the other mother in your neighborhood to see if they would cooperate with you and try to ignore her tattling as well.

Try to give her your attention in other ways. Pay attention when she talks to you about other things and engage her in a little conversation. Plan for some time every day that you can do something together like read or cook. For some reason or other she needs more attention that she’s getting.

Should Children Work Through College?

Dear Sara,

My sixteen-year-old daughter has an offer to have a job this summer as a waitress in a restaurant. She can also do this part time when school starts. She is really excited to be earning money but I am not so sure about letting her go to work. I really want her to go to college and I worry that this could take up time that she needs to study. I guess part of me feels that this is too soon for her to be out on her own working. Do you think sixteen is too young to have a job?

Dear Steve,

I think you have to consider how disappointed your daughter will be if you don’t allow her to take this opportunity. Sometimes as parents we have to pick our battles. You could let her try it this summer and see how it goes.

Does your daughter have plans for the money that she will earn? You could make a condition that she should put a portion of her money into savings for her college tuition. College is getting to be very expensive. You could also insist that she keep up a certain grade level when she goes back to school. If she is very social she may decide that her job is getting in the way of her social life. If she can handle everything a job could be a good experience for her.

Letting Children Have Pets

Dear Sara,

I have two daughters ages ten and twelve. They have brought home a stray dog and are totally enamored by her. She’s cute and friendly and makes herself at home here. I really don’t want a dog. I know there will be muddy foot prints and pee stains on my carpets and if the girls don’t take her out and feed her I will have to do this. Should I let them have this dog?


Dear Avery,

You admit that this dog is cute and friendly so you must like her a little bit. It’s going to be difficult for the girls to give her up now that they have become attached to her so why not give her a chance.

There are some things to think about though. Is she a stray or just lost from her owners? You might want to check around your neighborhood to see if anyone has lost a pet. Has she been neutered? If you keep her you certainly don’t want to deal with puppies as well. A trip to the vet is a good idea to make sure she is healthy and that she gets her shots and is neutered if she needs it.
Let your girls know that they will be responsible for the care of their new friend. The responsibility will be good for them. You can let them know that if they don’t take care of their new pet she will have to go.


School Dance Concerns

Dear Sara,

Our fifteen year old daughter wants to go to a school dance with a group of her friends. One of the boys can drive and plans to take them and bring them home. She said that the dance is over at ten and they will probably go out to eat afterward but she doesn’t know what time they will get home. Should we take her and pick her up? She said that she would rather stay home than do that.

Dear Ron,

There are a few questions that you could ask yourself to decide whether or not to let your daughter go out with this group. The first one might be “has my daughter given me any reason not to trust her?” Does she ever lie to you to get around your rules? Is she usually dependable? What do you know about the driver of the car? Is he a safe driver or has he been known to be reckless? You might want to talk to his parents. Are there drugs or alcohol in the neighborhood or school? The police department might know about this.

The problem is that you can’t protect her every minute and she will eventually have to learn to use her own judgement. If everything checks out and you feel that the situation is not too risky you might want to consider letting  her go with her friends but give her the option of calling you to bring her home if she feels unsafe or uncomfortable.

Abortion Pressure From Husband

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 money 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 Joy,

I’m sure that you 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 that these days great numbers 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 goals 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 the pregnancy is all your fault.

Thieving Child

Dear Sara,

My furnace needed work and the repair man brought his son with him. He was about six or seven years old. The boy followed his father around for most of the time but came in the kitchen asking for water. As I was getting the water the boy reached into my purse and took our a handful of change. I opened his hand and told him it was bad to steal. I took him to his father and let him know what happened. The father asked the boy if he took the money and the boy said “no.” The father became angry at me for accusing his son. I just told him to keep the boy with him at all times and left. Was there something else I should have said or done to make this father more aware of what his son is capable of?

Dear Rebecca,

You probably did all that you could do. The father should have taken your word for it as you had no reason to lie. Sometimes when you love someone very very much, you tend to believe what they say no matter what others tell you. If his son continues to take things that don’t belong to him, this  man will eventually  see that his son is not perfect. It will probably take some time.

The other scenario may be that stealing is something that is normal in their family. In that case I would think you may want another furnace repair person. Lets hope this was a one time incident.