Sqealing 9 Month Old

Dear Sara,

My nine-month-old daughter has started squealing. When she wants something or just wants to make noise she lets out a high pitched squeal that will just about knock your socks off. You can see people cringe when we take her out. How can I get her to stop this?

Dear Ken,

I’m sorry to say it will be difficult to get your daughter to stop squealing. She has learned that this is a good way to get your attention and get what she wants. She apparently likes the sound of her own voice. You can try speaking very softly to her and turning away from her when she squeals. This might work as babies like to have your attention (if you try to shush her this is giving her attention). Don’t ignore her at other times though, just pay more attention to her when she makes noises that you like. The good thing is that she will grow out of this. The bad part is that it could take a couple of years. She has found out that she can manipulate her world by squealing so she may not be willing to give it up.

New Mom Struggling To Cope

Dear Sara,

I have a three-month-old baby boy and I love him so much. He is cuddly and warm and I feel great when he is not crying. When he cries and won’t shut up, I want to do almost anything to make him stop. It scares me. I just turned seventeen and I’m living with my parents. They insist that I stay home and take care of him and be totally responsible for him while they go to work every day. I feel trapped by my baby. All my friends are out doing fun things and I feel like I am being punished. I am feeling really depressed. How can I get my parents to see that I can’t keep doing this?

Dear Samantha,

The fact that you are depressed and sound fearful that you could hurt your baby are very serious symptoms. It sounds like you think your parents are punishing you for getting pregnant. It may be that they are trying to teach you to be responsible for the life that you have brought into this world. Either way, it seems that you are being pushed beyond your limit.

As soon as possible try to talk to your parents about how you are feeling Let them know that you are depressed and worried about hurting your baby. If they don’t think this is serious then call Child Protective Services in your area. Maybe even though you love your baby he might be better off with parents who are better able to care for him emotionally. You say you want to be with your friends. This is normal for your age. Maybe doing what is best for your baby will be best for you as well in the long run.

Learning About Asperger’s

Dear Sara,

A friend of my son has a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder. I am not sure what that is. He seems OK most of the time but has peculiar reactions sometimes. What can you tell me about this condition?
-Mary Ellen

Dear Mary Ellen,

Autism was originally all one diagnosis. Now they diagnosis it on a continuum and Asperger’s syndrome is in the less severe range. Only recently was it recognized as a unique disorder. If there has been a diagnosis of Asperger’s you will probably see some things that are different from normal.

You might notice in your son’s friend lacks general social skills. He may have problems relating to others because he doesn’t know how to judge feelings and emotions. He probably has a narrow range of things that he feels comfortable doing but may be exceptional at the things he focuses on. Some other things that you might notice is an inability to make eye contact or unusual facial gestures or hand movements. He may either stand too close or not want to be touched.

Children with Asperger’s syndrome don’t make friends easily. Your son may share some interest with him that he is especially focused on so they get along well in that area. Some children with Asperger’s do better than others in social situations and some can function close to normal. This young man is lucky to have your son as a friend.

Runaway Teen Daughter

Dear Sara,

My daughter is sixteen and has run away from home twice. The first time she was about twelve and then again last month. She has become sullen and uncooperative and says she hates us. I was hoping she would grow out of her anger and bad disposition but so far this hasn’t happened. I’ve tried to talk to her and ask her what’s wrong but she just says “nothing.” I know something is bothering her I just don’t know what. How can I get her to confide in me?

Dear Jennifer,

Your daughter is obviously very unhappy about something and is afraid to confide in you. Since she can’t talk to you then there is something she feels she has to hide. This sounds like she may be having a problem with sexual abuse. Keep a lookout for someone who has access to her. Since she isn’t able to talk to you she might be able to talk to a therapist. If she has been molested by a man it would probably be better if she had a female therapist. She needs help and is asking for it by running away.

Mom Needs Help With Teenage Son

Dear Sara,

I am a divorced Mom with a fifteen-year-old son. We fight about almost everything. He seems so angry and moody. He stays in his room most of the time and when he comes out he answers me with only a word or two. He spends his time with games and music and sometimes homework. He doesn’t have friends over but apparently keeps in contact online. I am totally stressed out between my job and the constant tension between us. Is there a way to get along with my son again?

Dear Ella,

It is not unusual for teens to be moody or angry. You didn’t say what exactly you and your son are at odds about but I would assume that you have rules that he doesn’t want to follow. He is being passive aggressive by not speaking to you and is trying to punish you by his lack of interaction. He may feel that this is the only way that he can try to manipulate you. to get his way. There may be ways that you can compromise with him but if not just know that he will change into a caring son when he gets older. Focus on taking care of yourself and do things that you can enjoy.

Leaving Children Alone While At Work

Dear Sara,

I have two boys ages nine and eleven. We are having major financial problems. I have found a job(thank goodness). My Mom is here during the summer but she has to go home in September. I won’t be home until 6:00PM which means the boys will have to be on their own for a couple of hours when school starts. Can I safely leave them for this amount of time? I feel guilty but I don’t feel I have any options right now.

Dear Joanie,

Some kids are mature enough and others might now be, so you need to the judge of that. Kids can think up all kinds of things to get into so if you decide to leave them on their own make sure that you have a set of rules that they are supposed to follow (like no lighting candles or cooking on the stove). Give them a reward at the end of the week for following the rules. Maybe you could find a neighbor who would be willing to be there for them if they have a problem. Give them a call in the afternoon and check up on them. If you feel things aren’t going well then you may have to hire a neighborhood teen to stay with them.

Kids Are Turning Into Brats

Dear Sara,

My kids are eleven, thirteen and fourteen. They have become real brats. Their father has to travel because of his job so he’s not here much to help. They are disrespectful and demanding and I feel overwhelmed. I think my fourteen year old started it and the other two joined in. How can I feel like an in charge Mom again?

Dear Amber,

Since your kids aren’t old enough to work you have a way to control them. If you withhold money and transportation unless they cooperate, they will complain loudly, but they will get the point. Talk to your husband first and let him know what you are doing so he won’t bail them out. It may take a while to get control again so don’t give in.

Good luck,

Teen Daughter’s Friend Is Pregnant… What Can I Do?

Dear Sara,

My sixteen-year-old daughter has confided in me that her friend (also sixteen) thinks she is pregnant. I am not supposed to tell anyone. I want to keep my daughter’s confidence but I feel like this girl’s mother needs to know what is going on. Do I tell her Mom and risk losing my daughter’s faith in me or should I just stay out of it?

Dear Lauren,

Your daughter’s girlfriend probably should confide in her mother but for some reason doesn’t feel safe in doing this. If she really is pregnant, this will probably happen any way because she will need adult help. You are right to want to keep your daughter’s trust in you but this involves another mother’s child. She has a right to know what is going on. Why don’t you get the girls together and have a serious talk with them about the need to have her parents for support if she really is pregnant. If she refuses then you could let her know that if she hasn’t told them within a week or ten days then your responsibility is to let them know what is going on. This will seem harsh to the pregnant teen but being a parent sometimes means making difficult decisions.
Good luck,

Helping Kids Sleep In Their Own Beds

Dear Sara,

I have two children, a boy five and a girl who just turned ten. I have been divorced for about three years now. My son is scared of the dark and likes to be with me all of the time. We now live in my grandparents’ old house and my bedroom is downstairs and both of their bedrooms are upstairs where there is no toilet. My daughter won’t sleep in her bed unless my son sleeps in his bed. My son did sleep in his room one night but came downstairs crying because he had to go to the bathroom so bad. He ended up having an accident right before he got to the toilet. My father says it’s fine because he grew up in the same house as a child and had to go downstairs to use the bathroom. I really don’t know what to do. I try to explain to my daughter that it is OK for my son to sleep with me because he is way younger than her. Then she says it isn’t fair and that I don’t love her as much as I love my son. I really don’t know what else to try. Please help me.

Dear Bonnie,

It sounds like both of your kids are pretty insecure about sleeping upstairs. When they get used to the new arrangements they will be more comfortable. Most homes now are arranged on one floor with the bathroom close to the bedrooms and this is what they are probably used to. Having to travel downstairs by himself may be too much to expect of a five-year-old at night.

Why don’t you try sleeping upstairs with the kids for a while? Neither one is very comfortable up there and may just need some company until they are used to the arrangements. After they have had time to adjust, you can move back to your room downstairs.
Good luck,

Helping Adult Children

Dear Sara,

Our oldest son and his wife, parents of a ten-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl are having serious financial difficulties. Over the past few years, my son has had several jobs and seemed to lose them because of one reason or another and spent time at home while his wife worked full time and he has become a house husband because of their finances. Now he has been forced to take a job from 4:00 PM until 1:00 AM. Their parenting skill are very different and they rarely talk or present a united front. Our granddaughter has taken to writing her Dad notes almost daily, regarding Mom’s behavior (bad cooking, discipline issues, etc.) for him to read when he gets home. He doesn’t share these with his wife though she has read some and tells me she is “being thrown under the bus.” I believe she really wants to try but is impatient with the children. and mostly yells. I am very concerned and see the kids manipulating both of them and it is affecting their relationship. I know they need to be on the same page and present a united front. Is there anything you can recommend to help them get it together? They can’t afford counseling. Thanks for any advice.

Dear Francie,

By being passive your son is communicating to his children that it’s OK to disrespect their Mom. She is right in saying she is being “thrown under the bus”. What the kids need to hear (like yesterday) is that even though they disagree with Mom she is the boss. They also need to ask “what did you do that made Mom angry”? The main problem here is that your son and his wife aren’t talking to each other. This inability to communicate is affecting their relationship and their role as parents. I realize that having financial problems puts a strain on the whole family and that your son losing his income probably has affected his self-esteem. Part of being married is to support and each other. Encourage them to take some time to talk face to face and try to resolve the problems this way. If they can’t get through this by themselves without help maybe you could help them financially to get some family counseling.