Helping Mom To Stop Drinking

Dear Sara,

I am sixteen years old and a junior in high school. I live with my Mom and she gets home from work about six o’clock. As soon as she gets home she starts to drink. By nine o’clock she is pretty drunk and goes to sleep on the couch. I do my homework and wake her up before I go to bed. I’ve tried to tell her that I don’t want to live this way but she told me she can’t help it. My Dad lives in another state and I could live with him but I would have to leave my friends and there would be no one to take care of my Mom. How can I get my Mom to quit drinking?

Dear Rebecca,

It’s not your job to take care of your Mom. She should be taking care of you. She has already told you that she doesn’t have the strength to quit drinking so as long as she has you there to help her she won’t quit. You have to do what’s best for you. If you go to live with your Dad, your Mom will have to deal with her alcoholism by herself. People who drink too much sometimes have to hit bottom in order to seek help. Your Mom’s drinking is not your responsibility. You will make new friends if you go to live with your Dad.
Take care of yourself.

An Extended Engagement

Dear Sara,

I am twenty-two and have been engaged to my boyfriend for four years. He doesn’t seem at all interested in getting married. He has a group of single guys he hangs out with and they go to ball games and play poker and take a yearly trip to Florida for a week. We go out once or twice a week or he comes over and we watch TV but I feel less important than his buddies. I have a job and can support myself but I would like to get married and have a family. How can I get him to understand this?

Dear Abbie,

Your boyfriend seems satisfied with the way things are. This would probably change if he marries you. You would expect him to stay home and hang out with you and the kids and not with the guys. You have waited for four years so how much longer are you willing to wait? it doesn’t seem like he’s ready to settle down. He has things the way he wants. What you have to ask yourself is how long are you willing to wait before you get tired and move on.

When Kids Don’t Want Parental Input

Dear Sara,

My fifteen-year-old daughter wants to decorate her room. I have a degree in interior design and have worked in this field for quite a while so I know something about how to put things together. I decorated her room when we moved to this home and it is lovely. My daughter says that she wants to plan everything with no advice from me. As far as I’m concerned her taste is terrible. She wants ridiculous color combinations and ultra modern furniture and we have a really traditional home. How can we come to an agreement on this?

Dear Merideth,

Your daughter is beginning to think for herself and have her own style. Her taste is apparently the opposite of yours and you have some really strong opinions on how things need to be done. This room is your daughter’s room and she has lived with your taste in decor for all of her life. She is now ready to try her wings in the decorating department. Hopefully, you can guide her and help her with color and style but if she refuses then you may be wise to back off and let her do her thing. At fifteen she needs to be able to experiment and see what her ideas look like in real life. You may not like her results but it’s only one room and when she goes off to college or gets married you can redo it to suit yourself. Try not to go to battle with your daughter over this. She will be out on her own before you know it. In the meantime just close her door.

13 And Pregnant

Dear Sara,

My daughter is thirteen and pregnant. She told me that she didn’t think you could get pregnant the first time. The boy is fourteen. She thinks she’s all grown up now and she wants to keep the baby. I am divorced and supporting both of us since I have no idea where her father is. I can’t take care of her baby and she’s hardly old enough to baby sit much less raise a child. How can I make her see this?

Dear Lauren,

If you can manage it, try not to lose your temper with her. I’m sure you’ve already discussed with her that she can’t depend on you to raise her baby. Point out the things she would be missing out on, like school and dates and prom. All of the fun things her friends will be enjoying without her. Talk to her about couples who can’t have a baby and would love and take care of her baby and be able to give him things that she couldn’t. Give her time to process all of this. Don’t push her too much and hopefully she will see that keeping the baby will be too much for her at her age.

Dealing With Gender Issues

Dear Sara,

My ten-year-old daughter is not very feminine. She dresses like a boy and avoids skirts and dresses and fancy shoes. Her name is Brianna and she wants to be called Brian or Bri. She has two older brothers so this could be part of how she behaves. I can accept whatever she becomes but I really wanted a little girl. Is there anything I can do to get her to be more feminine?

Dear Jillian,

Kids sometimes get crazy ideas in their head and will tend to stick with them for a while. At ten she’s not exactly set in her ways. She would probably enjoy some more attention from you so try to do something with her that you both can enjoy. Don’t try to change her or pay to much attention to her choice of clothes. You probably won’t know her true feelings until she gets older.

Encouraging Kids To Go To College

Dear Sara,

I have three-month-old twins and a three-year-old. I decided to get married instead of going to college and I’m happy enough but I really would like to see my kids get a college education. What can I do to encourage them?

Dear Sadie,

The very most important thing you can do for your children is to encourage them to read. Read to them when they are infants and preschoolers. When they are old enough take them to the library and let them choose their own books. If the library has programs for children let them participate. A love of reading will last a lifetime. Even if your children read things you don’t consider worthwhile they are learning vocabulary and picking up pieces of information.
When they are old enough for school, get involved and get to know their teachers. If they are having problems you will be on top of it. It will be difficult but try to control the amount of time they spend on the TV and Internet. They will learn things there but they have to have more interests in their life than this. Guide them while you can. They will be more independent as they get older.

How Will My Baby Turn Out?

Dear Sara,

I am pregnant with my first baby. We used artificial insemination because my husband didn’t have any viable sperm. It took some time to adjust to everything and now we are happy to be pregnant. I don’t know why but I keep worrying about what kind of person my baby will be. Will he or she inherit some personality trait that will make problems? I can’t believe I decided on doing this and now I’m worrying about it.

Dear Eva,

Any pregnancy is a combination of genetics from both partners. Our control of this is nil (there are people who experiment with this but it’s not common). There are recessive genes that don’t show up until there is a right combination. Just because the sperm was donated doesn’t mean that it is flawed any more than if it was you husband’s. A lot of how your child turns out depends on your parenting and your own disposition. Your child learns from you how to act and behave. Be consistent and fair and give him or her lots of love. Every Mom worries about her baby. It just means you want the best possible life for your wonderful new baby.

Good luck.

Preventing Overweight Children

Dear Sara,

I have two kids ages eight and ten and they are beginning to be overweight. They are more interested in TV, computer and phones than actually doing anything physical. Mom also buys junk for them that they can eat whenever they want. I know this is not good for them but I let it go on because I’m not sure what to do. Any suggestions?

Dear David,

It’s time for you to get more involved. The kids need to get out of the house and use their muscles. If nothing else get them out of the house for a walk after dinner two or three times a week. On the weekends maybe you could ride bikes to the park. Try to get your wife involved in the kids’ health and fitness too. Their diet needs to have less high-calorie snacks and more fruit and vegetables. Kids can have the same problems as adults if allowed to become obese. Things like high blood pressure, clogged arteries, breathing difficulties and weak bones caused by a lack of mineral-rich diet and regular exercise. The more overweight your kids become the harder it will be to change things. Get involved now.

Double Date To Prom

Dear Sara,

My son is sixteen but doesn’t drive yet. His best friend has a license and they want to double date to the junior prom. This worries me because I have seen his friend when he smelled like alcohol and seemed really happy. I feel like my son would be in danger if this kid decided to drink and drive. How should I handle this situation? My son won’t be happy if I say no to their plans.

Dear Amanda,

If you haven’t talked to your son about your suspicions about his friend you need to do this first. You might consider helping your son get his own drivers license so he won’t be dependent on his friend for transportation. Sixteen-year-olds shouldn’t be drinking but they think they are already grown up. Your son may be upset but you can’t let him go out with a teen who may drink and drive.

Job Or Graduate School?

Dear Sara,

I have a daughter in college and she wants to go to graduate school. She will be graduating soon and has already been offered a job. We have paid for her tuition and feel like it’s time for her to go to work and support herself. She says she won’t be able to get the kind of job she wants without at least a Masters degree. Apparently, she’s already applied to several schools. How can I convince her to take the job and forget about graduate school? She’s really stubborn.

Dear Anna,

Apparently, your daughter has made up her mind. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay for her tuition. She needs to figure that out on her own. She has depended on you for four years and should be grateful for your help. If she feels that further education is critical then she will figure out how to pay for it. Lot’s of young people leave school with the debt of student loans. Your daughter is old enough to think for herself. You probably won’t change her mind by refusing to pay for her tuition.