Drama Among Friends

Dear Sara,

My seventeen-year-old daughter is really upset. She has been dumped by her boyfriend who has started “going with” one of her friends in their group. She is angry, depressed and embarrassed and feels awkward socializing with them. How can I help her deal with this sticky situation?

Dear Ginny,

This type of situation is fairly common among teens. They meet someone and fall “madly in love” and soon the romance cools and there is someone else to be interested in. This seems to be part of the process of choosing a mate. It is very uncomfortable for one or the other if this doesn’t happen at the same time. The next time your daughter may be the one who loses interest first.

This doesn’t keep her from having very acute feelings of loss, however. Your job here is to listen and let her tell you how she feels. Let her cry and vent if she wants and don’t give advice or try to fix things. She will eventually work things out with her friends. Mostly she just needs some time to get over her feelings of rejection. There may very well be some young man waiting to be a replacement.

Shopping is also good therapy and a new outfit might lift her spirits somewhat. This can be a good time for you and your daughter to do some things that you like to do together. I hope things return to normal soon.

Accusing Husband

Dear Sara,

My husband is accusing me of being unfaithful. This is totally not true. I have never even thought about another man. I feel like he is trying to manipulate me somehow. We have two kids and our one year old has red hair. Neither of us has red hair so he feels that this baby must be someone else’s child. How can I convince him he is wrong.
Dear Sylvia,

When someone has an idea like this it’s often difficult to convince them otherwise. You can let him know about the genetics that are involved and hope he is convinced.

You probably both have a recessive gene that is associated with red hair. Genes are pieces of DNA that each have instructions for one small part of you. A gene for red hair is recessive so a person needs two copies of that gene for it to show up or be expressed. One from each of you. That means that even if both parents carry the gene, just one in four of their children will turn out to be a redhead. As a result families with no redheads for decades can suddenly develop a carrot top in their midst.

I hope you can explain this to your husband and that he will believe you.

16 And Pregnant

Dear Sara,

I am sixteen and pregnant. I really want to keep my baby but I’m afraid that I’m not ready for all the responsibility. I’m the youngest of five and when I told my Mom she said that she has had enough of raising children and doesn’t want to raise another. My boyfriend has gone back to college and barely writes or texts anymore. He wanted me to get an abortion but I’ve always felt like this is wrong. I already feel love for my baby so it would be hard to give it up. What do you think is the right thing to do?

Dear Brittany,

You have a big decision to make at your young age. You are already weighing your options though. You’ve said you aren’t ready to take on the responsibility so what are your other options? I’m sure that you have thought about giving your baby up for adoption. This would be a very difficult thing for you to do since you already love this baby but the baby would go to two people who would love it dearly and take on the financial and emotional responsibility. You will always love this baby and he or she will never be far from your thoughts. Nobody can make this difficult decision for you. I hope that you can be at peace with whatever you decide.

Daughter Wants To Fit In

Dear Sara,

My daughter is fourteen and is very unhappy because she’s not popular. She tries to make friends but they just don’t seem to stick around. She’s fairly quiet and often doesn’t say much so I have the feeling this is part of the problem. I have tried to encourage her to be more outgoing but she just doesn’t seem to be able to do this. What can I do to help her?

Dear Jenna,

If your daughter is unhappy about her lack of friends then maybe this will motivate her to change things. If she is somewhat of an introvert then she will have to push herself to join some groups. Have her think about what her interests are and find a club or project in that area. The more she is out and about the more people she will meet and if they have a common interest she will find those who will eventually be her friends. She has to be willing to put herself out there, probably out of her normal comfort zone.

Mom Needs Backup

Dear Sara,

I am a working single Mom with a five-year-old. My Mom also works so I don’t have much backup help if she gets sick and can’t go to kindergarten and daycare. At least once a week she gets up in the morning and complains of stomach pain. I have taken her to the pediatrician often and he doesn’t seem to think there is a physical reason for her problems. She has had some testing and nothing shows up. I have the feeling that she just want my time and attention which I wish I had more of for her. My boss is pretty understanding of my situation but I don’t get paid for the days I miss. What can I do to get her to go to school so I can go to work?

Dear Leah,

It sounds like your daughter misses you a lot and wants your time and attention. She’s not old enough to understand the financial responsibilities that you have. Since you’ve had her checked out for physical problems then you might want to check out her school and daycare to see if she is having problems there. Does she get along with the other kids? Is there something about school that she doesn’t like? If this checks out then you might try a star chart. Have her help you make a decorated chart with the days of the week. Give her a star for the days that she goes to school and a prize or something that she really wants for a certain number of stars. This works pretty well for her age group.

Good luck.

Fighting Brothers

Dear Sara,

I have two boys ages eight and ten. They are fighting constantly and I mean physically hitting and throwing things at each other. One of them had to have stitches in his forehead last week because his brother pushed him down the stairs. I have some peace while they are in school but that seems about it. I have punished them and try to keep them apart but they always seem to get into it eventually. What can I do to keep the peace between them?

Dear Emma,

I have a feeling that your two boys may enjoy going after each other since it happens so often. They seem to have a lot of energy and need an outlet for this. It will require time and energy but it might help if you enrolled them in separate sports suitable for their age group. You didn’t mention their father but it would be good for them to have him involved as well. If he’s not available maybe you could enlist their grandfather or a favorite uncle.
Your involvement is important to them so try to keep up with their games. This will give you an opportunity to give them time and attention separately rather than giving attention to their constant fighting.

First Baby Has Downs Syndrome

Dear Sara,

I am expecting my first baby. My gynecologist ran a test and at my last visit he told me that my baby would have Downs Syndrome. He said that since I am not very far along I can terminate my pregnancy and try again later. I can’t imagine doing something like that but I also am really afraid of trying to raise a child who has problems like this. I have talked to my husband and he said it is up to me. I have this awful panic feeling inside my chest. Is there any way I can make a sane decision? I have to decide soon.

Dear Brooke,

Some children with Downs syndrome can lead a fairly normal life but others will be limited in what they can do. You don’t really know how things will turn out. This is true of every pregnancy, however. Your baby is probably already a person to you and this is why you are having feelings of panic.

If you have an opportunity, maybe you could visit a class or school for special needs children and interact with some children who have Downs syndrome. Maybe this would give you a better idea of what kinds of problems you may have to deal with. Most are sweet and loving children.

If there are other people in your life that you trust to talk to them and tell them how conflicted you feel. You might also find that some counseling would help you sort out your feelings. Talking about the pros and cons of what you are about to do could help you with your decision.

Good luck.

Terrible Teens

Dear Sara,

My daughter has just turned fifteen. For the last year, she has been really hard to live with. I have two older girls and neither of them acted like this. When told that she can’t have something or go somewhere that she wants she has terrible tantrums. She cries for hours and tells me she hates me. She breaks my heart. I want to get along with her but I am not about to let her go off and do what she wants. How can I get through to her?

Dear Amelia,

Sometimes when teen girls start having an excess of hormones it affects them this way. They get overly emotional and very dramatic. She doesn’t really hate you, she just wants her own way. You still have to do what’s best for her whether she likes it or not. When she figures out her behavior won’t get her what she wants she may calm down some but the tears could continue for a while. Be patient and weather the storm. She may apologize when she gets older.

Unhealthy Marriage

Dear Sara,

I have an eighteen month old son who takes a nap from about 1:00PM until 3:00PM. I really need this time to get some work done since I work from home. My next door neighbor works the night shift and usually gets up around 2:00PM. He goes out to his patio and eats his lunch and plays his radio loud enough to wake my son. I asked him a couple of times to turn his radio down and he usually turns it off or goes inside. In a few days he does the same thing again and every time wakes my son. I’ve tried to be nice but I am not getting through to this man. What can I do?

Dear Ella,

Even if I did not have a small child I don’t think I would like having loud music played in the vicinity of my home. Why don’t you try explaining your problem to him as clearly as possible and write down on paper your son’s nap time so he is very clear on the problem he is creating for you. if this doesn’t work, you would be justified in calling the local police and letting them make him aware of the problem. If it happens again, call them again. Surely he will get the message eventually.

Good luck,

My Kids Are A Mess

Dear Sara,

I have three preschoolers and my house is a mess. We have a two bedroom rental and we are saving for a down payment on a bigger house so I’m stuck here for at least two more years. I really didn’t plan to get pregnant the last time. It just happened so I’ve got two cribs and a cot in one bedroom. I don’t have much storage space so their things are everywhere. They end up playing in the living room and there are wall to wall toys. Where do I start to keep things more organized?

Dear Emily,

Kids often have more toys than they need so why don’t you start cleaning things up by getting rid of the things you can see they don’t play with. Usually, at birthday time they get more toys and things they might play with once and then lose interest for whatever reason. So get a big garbage bag and give away some of the things you can do without.

Kids often lose interest in their toys after a short while so something you can do is rotate sets of toys. Keep some in plastic storage boxes under the bed and rotate them every week or two. The kids will have a new set of toys from time to time.

Kids have to be taught to be neat. It doesn’t usually come naturally. If they drag everything out of the toy box, you need to have a time where everybody picks up their stuff. Before nap time and bedtime would be a good habit. If they want to watch TV, first pick up the toys. You’re the Mom, you get to make the rules.