Wife’s Gambling Problems

Dear Sara,

I don’t know what to do. My wife gambles. She has access to bookies and casinos and whenever she has access to money she blows it on whatever game strikes her fancy. I learned that I can’t give her free access to the checking account as it will be down to nothing very soon. She says she needs money for groceries or clothes for the kids but at least some of will be spent gambling. I know that there are places to go for help but she refuses. The kids love her and I still care about her but if I’m not careful she will put us in debt over our heads. What can I do to make her stop gambling?

Dear Conrad,

I doubt that anything you can do can stop this addiction. Your wife has to be willing to get help and this is up to her. It sounds like this is taking over your life and the life of your family.

Sometimes when someone has an addiction you have to be really strong. You might give her an ultimatum. Let her know that you can’t live with the threat of going bankrupt all of the time and that if she won’t get help for her addiction you will leave and take the kids. You say that the kids love her and I’m sure she loves them. She will have a choice to make and you will know what is most important to her. Her family or her gambling.

Good luck.

Help With Parents

Dear Sara,

I know that you give parenting advice. I am twelve years old and I need advice about my parents. They fight all of the time. They scream at each other and sometimes kick and slap. At times they talk about divorce. When they act like this I usually go outside or to my room but it’s loud enough that I can hear them even then. I’m sure the neighbors hear them too. I wish I could leave but there isn’t anywhere to go. I have friends at school but I can’t really bring them home. Sometimes I feel really alone. What should I do?

Dear Shawna,

I can only imagine how difficult this is for you. Sometimes parents don’t realize how their behavior affects their children. It’s OK to tell your parents how you feel and how this affects your life. Ask them to please go to counseling.

This seems almost like a way of life to them at this point. Also, let them know that you would like to live somewhere else until they settle their differences. If this doesn’t work, talk to your school counselor and let him or her help you. This is not a good way for you to grow up.

Putting A Family Dog Down

Dear Sara,

We have an elderly dog who was a rescue and he’s been part of our family for a long time. The vet says he has cancer and is in a lot of pain. He suggested that we consider euthanasia for him. We have two kids ages eight and twelve who just can’t bear the idea of putting their pet down. I can’t bear to see the poor dog suffer. Is it OK to put the dog out of his misery even though the kids object?

Dear Lois,

I think you know what the best thing to do is even though your kids object. All you can do is try to explain the situation to them and let them know that this will be painful for you as well.

Maybe you could have some kind of memorial service for your pet where the kids can say goodbye. Families often bury their pet in the backyard so the kids would know their pet is there in spirit at least. Maybe a new puppy would help them through their grieving process.

What’s Wrong With My Daughter?

Dear Sara,

My daughter is seventeen and has been locking herself in her room. She only comes out to eat and won’t communicate with us. She seems to be talking to someone in her room. She has a telephone but I don’t think it’s been charged lately. She hasn’t had a bath or washed her hair for at least a week and she used to do this daily. She looks at us like we are strangers who might hurt her. This has been going on about two weeks now. I know she hasn’t had any drugs since she in her room but I don’t know about before. We thought we would give her some time to get over this, thinking it might be some kind of relationship problem but we can’t let this continue. How do we handle this?

Dear Tina,

Your daughter need help right now. Her behavior is not normal and she can’t help herself. If you can’t get her to cooperate and go to see a psychiatrist then you will have to take the necessary steps to have her committed to a facility that can give her the help she needs.

She’s not legally of age where you need her consent so you have the right to do what is necessary to help her. It sounds like she needs to be evaluated and prescribed medication to help her. I know this won’t be easy for you

Forty-five and Pregnant

Dear Sara,

I am forty-five years old and just found out I am pregnant. Needless to say, this is a big shock since I didn’t think I was fertile anymore. I have two daughters ages eighteen and twenty. I had no idea that I could still get pregnant. I really don’t want another baby at my age. I haven’t told anybody yet so I could just have an abortion and no one would know. My head is telling me no don’t have a baby but my heart is saying this is a baby just like my girls were. Is there any way I can make up my mind and have some peace?
-Carol Lee

Dear Carol Lee,

I can see that this is a really difficult decision for you to make. Why don’t you share your pregnancy with your family and let them know how you feel. If you decide to keep your baby then you would have their support. I can’t predict how they will feel but you would have their support whatever way you decide to go. From what you have written I have the feeling that if you decide to abort this baby you will feel some guilt and wonder what the baby would be like. Either way, you are going to face some problems. Good luck.

Disapproving Of Daughter’s Boyfriend

Dear Sara,

We have an eighteen-year-old daughter who is a freshman in college. Her mother and I are professionals and have more than adequate income and a nice home. I think of my daughter as naive. She is dating a young man who I don’t feel is trustworthy. He’s not in college and apparently doesn’t plan to go and works at a fast food place. She has an allowance and most of the time pays for their dates. She has brought him to the house a few times and he doesn’t make eye contact very often. I don’t want her to date this guy but I don’t think she would follow my advice. Is there any way to stop this relationship?

Dear Mark,

When a woman loves a man, she sees only what she wants to see. If you told your daughter negative things about her young man she would not believe you and would be angry with you. You can’t give her your maturity or good sense so all you can do is wait and see what happens and be there for her if she needs you.

This young man may be intimidated by your home and money and is afraid of interacting with you. He may have a plan other than college to support himself. He apparently needs time to mature. Your instincts may be right but your daughter will have to figure that out for herself.

Adoption Concerns

Dear Sara,

I’ve been married two years and have just found out I can’t have a baby. I can’t believe that this has happened to me. All my sisters have kids and I feel like I’m not part of all that they have. My husband and I have talked it over and think we might want to adopt. It seems like the women and girls now want to keep their baby and raise it as single Moms so there aren’t so many babies to be adopted. Also it seems that many Moms willing to give up their baby have the option to choose the perfect parents for their child. This seems difficult and exhausting. We aren’t rich and don’t have a grand house so we would be way down on the list of prospective parents. Do you think we should give up or go through the process and get on the list?

Dear Andrea,

You can be part of your sisters’ family by offering to baby sit. I am sure they would be delighted to share their children with you in that way. Only you and your husband can decide how much you are willing to go through to have a baby to care for.

There are things that have to be considered such as income and housing but loving parents are important too. There are babies in other countries that need homes so you might look into that as well. Any way you look at this it won’t be an easy process. What it boils down to is, do you want a baby bad enough to go through all of the inspections and interviews and disappointments to have this baby in your life? It sounds as though you aren’t totally committed to the idea yet. Take your time and think things through.

Runaway 4 Year Old

Dear Sara,

I have a very adventurous four year old. I have learned to keep the front and back door locked so she can’t escape the house but when I take her anywhere she will manage to escape. If I let her out of the basket at the grocery store she will be as far away from me as she can get. It’s really risky for me to take her for a walk or to the park because as soon as my attention is elsewhere she takes off. This is like a game to her now. I have tried to explain how dangerous this is but I’m not getting through to her. What can I do to make her stop doing this?

Dear Beth,

It sounds like you have a daughter who like to get your attention by disappearing. You might try giving her some reward and punishment options. If she stays with you in the grocery store she can pick a treat as you check out. If she runs away she has to go to time out when she gets home. You could use the same type of thing when you go to the park. If she gets away with these things without consequences she will probably continue. You know what will work best for a consequence so let it be something that she won’t like at all. She’s playing games with you. Don’t let her get away with it.

Smart Child Bad Grades

Dear Sara,

My son is very bright but doesn’t do his homework so he gets really bad grades on his report card. He would rather play video games or watch TV. He has games and TV in his room and will say that he is doing homework when he is playing games. I think he will need good grades to get into college no matter how smart he is. What should I do about this?

Dear Darla,

Not only does your son need better grades to get into college, he needs to be able to learn to discipline himself and do the work that needs to be done rather than what he wants to do. He may be smart but won’t get any place in life if he’s not willing to do the work required to be successful.

I know that he will complain loudly but the TV and games need to be removed from his room until his grades improve. After that he can have his equipment back but only if he does his homework and his grades are where they need to be. As long as he is in your home, you are in charge and he has to follow your rules. It sounds like he probably won’t do homework unless you take charge and don’t let him get away with being lazy.

Child Wants Plastic Surgery

Dear Sara,

My seventeen year old daughter wants to have breast reduction surgery. She has extremely large breasts and said that she is really uncomfortable. She said it’s like have to carry around two bowling balls all of the time and boys don’t look at her face only her breasts. She can’t find clothes that fit and in general she doesn’t like the way she looks. I am worried about her going to surgery for cosmetic reasons. She says insurance will pay for it. Do you think it’s OK for her to have this kind of surgery?

Dear Sandy,

Apparently breast reduction has more benefits than just cosmetic ones. Women who have large breasts have neck and back pain and can have headaches and herniated discs. Your daughter probably doesn’t get much exercise because it’s uncomfortable for her.

More importantly teens need to fit in with their peers. If they are extremely different like your daughter seems to be they are often outsiders. It’s difficult for them to have a normal social life and they end up with bad feelings about themselves and often are depressed. It sounds like it would be in your daughter’s best interest for her to have the breast reduction surgery. Talk it over with her doctor and give it some serious consideration.