Single dad already missing his college-bound daughter

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 30, 2013 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,

I am a single father of two girls, one is 18 and my younger is 14. I have been raising them on my own since they were 8 and 4. For a long time, it has been just us three.

My oldest daughter will leave for Freshman year of college in September and as we get closer to September, I am having a hard time dealing with it. I just feel incredibly sad like the joy and good times we all had as they grew up are over. Maybe it's just me being overly sentimental, I don't know. Even her younger sister is feeling it, though, she said to me in private a few days ago, "Dad, I'm sad that Marisa's leaving. It will be strange here without her." I told her that I was sad too and yes, it will be different. But she is only a 2- hour drive away, so it won't be that bad.

My question: Is it normal to have these feelings when older kids leave for College?

Also, if this is something a lot of people feel? Can you recommend any books or articles in helping to deal with it?

From: Anthony, Andover, MA


This picky eating may be about inconsistent parenting

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 25, 2013 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,
My son (4 yrs 10 mos) has never been a good eater. For lunch or dinner he'll eat only Mac and cheese (one specific brand,) hot dogs (but not with grill marks,) cheese pizza, chicken nuggets (fast food and one supermarket brand) or peanut butter sandwiches. He eats a little more at school but not much. My husband and I recognize that we have indulged this behavior but we've tried (for short periods of time, eventually giving in) to feed him other foods with the hope "if he's hungry he'll eat" but it's been a year with no improvement and even regression (recently refusing the supermarket nuggets for example.) His pediatrician spoke to him about trying new foods to no avail. We bribe him with books, toys and candy but he still tries nothing. We take away privileges (tv, iPod) but he doesn't seem to care.

Additionally he's started peeing his pants and wetting his bed in the past couple of months after being dry for over a year. I don't know if these behaviors are related but they are both troublesome. He lives in a secure, happy home. Attends and thrives in a wonderful school, has lots of attention from family and friends.

The frustration of these behaviors is increasing and we don't know what to do. We've cut back on snacks and plan to cut them entirely. But he's a high energy boy and I worry about his health if his diet doesn't improve (snacks are usually fruit or goldfish crackers or pretzels, no major junk food.) I'd really appreciate any suggestions for both issues because I'm at my wit's end. Thank you.

From, Rachel, Wellfleet, MA


Separation with an almost 2-year-old can be heart-wrenching

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 23, 2013 06:00 AM

I have a wonderful almost two year old daughter and have been fortunate to stay home with her since she was born. My husband and I switch off when we have events and if we have a special occasion, we take her with us to a restaurant so she will learn how to act and enjoy the special time. If I need care, my mom will take care of her for a couple of hours and she is ok and will even tell me good-bye now. Here is our situation now.... Since crawling, she will not stay in her church class without mom and dad. She cries and asks for mommy and is not allowed to stay longer than 10 min until a teacher comes and gets us. We have been out of town some and had company in town so we have not gone for a long period of time lately. Ideas????

From: Anita, Atlanta, GA


Young boy's interest in girls is normal, not naughty

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 18, 2013 06:00 AM

My six year [old] son is very interested in girls. Some times, I observe him ... talking about removing clothes to his friend who is a girl, and he [repeats] dialogues of a movie. When I listen to the words, I scold him and explain him not to [say] that, it is very bad. I don't know how to explain him. I observed him like this, I think, three times. Please help me in this matter.

From: Rose, Patiala, India


About-to-be deployed mom weighs school options

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 16, 2013 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,

Our family is going through a huge transition right now. My husband and I are both in the Air Force. He recently left for his deployment for a year to Afghanistan and should return next summer. I too, will be deploying at the end of October for 4 months. The issue we are having is deciding what to do with regarding kids' changing schools. I need your advice on how changing schools will affect my 7-year old daughter and 4 year-old son. Please note that while I am deployed, my kids will stay with their grandparents in a different state. Below our options we have:

1. Enroll my kids in school and start the beginning of the year where grandparents live. They will stay there until I return from my deployment in Feb 2014. They will switch schools after 3rd quarter. The downside is my kids will be away from me Aug 13 – Feb 14. I can fly to see them on weekends.

2. Have my kids start school and stay with me until October and after first quarter pull them out of school. They will go to grandparents to start school 2nd Quarter. The benefit is that they are with me. When I return from my deployment, switch schools after 3rd quarter and come back home with me. Downside is they will be switching schools twice.

3. Have my kids start school and stay with me until October and after first quarter pull them out of school. They will go to grandparents to start school 2nd Quarter and finish up school year. Downside they will be away from me from Oct 13- Jun 14 .

4. Enroll my kids in school and start at the beginning of the year where grandparents live. They will stay enrolled for the entire school year. Positive = they will not change schools, negative, they will be away from me from Aug -13 to Jun 14.

Please note that grandparents are retired and can dedicate 100% of their time to my children. My daughter stated that she wanted to stay with me until October because she wants to see her old friends again. She is okay with starting a new school and meeting new friends. The school where grandparents live is private and much better than the one at home. My daughter is very outgoing and can adapt to change. She is independent and likes to take the lead. My son, on the other hand, is totally opposite, reserved and shy.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. Any advice will be very much appreciated.

From: Danielle, Colorado Springs.


She's got a potentially toxic mother in law

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 10, 2013 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,

I have a problem with my mother in law. She always shouts at my 1 1/2 year old daughter as if she's 10 blocks away. She always freaks out at things and uses terrible bad words against my daughter. She lives in our house although her own house is just near our place. I already told this to my husband, but he will just say that I should give his mom a chance, that her bad words to my daughter like, "I will slap you in the face," "bullshit," are only jokes.

What will I do? I want my daughter to grow in an environment she deserves.

Thank you so much for your help.

From: Jellijones,


Dealing with a difficult 3-year-old

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 8, 2013 06:00 AM

Hi Barbera,

I have a 3 and a half year old. He has always had a strong, independent and determined personality. He has always challenged the boundaries but recently he has just gone to a new level of defiant with pretty much every task that is undertaken. Just basic tasks of eating, getting in the car, general play and bed time. He wont listen to instruction willingly and is becoming more more and more upset with himself, me and his carers.

I understand rewarding good behaviors and not giving energy to bad, but when he draws on walls, throws objects when driving in the car, kicks and pushes children in playground, throwing food. This is a challenging age but I was not ready for this. I am trying to stay calm but it is so tiring and he is relentless.

Is there any points that I should be implementing that I may be missing here.

From: Dee, Gold Coast


Vacation at grandma's without mom and dad?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 3, 2013 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,
I have two girls, aged 8 and 5, who are supposed to visit my mother out of state in August. Either my mom or I would fly with them, then the girls would be with my mom for 2 weeks. After that, my husband and I will join them.

The 8-year-old has done this for the last 2 summers, but this is the first time the 5-year-old would do this. The 5-year-old is alternately excited and anxious about the visit. She gets especially anxious when talking about specifics, such as how she will get to my mom's house, who will put her to bed, etc.

She has a good relationship with my mom and I'm sure would have a good time once she gets over the initial separation. We have offered to video chat with her and/or call her every night to say goodnight, etc. but she is still anxious.

Is there any way to help her through this anxiety? Or is she too young to try this?

Thank you for your advice!
From: M, Metro Boston


Dad has unrealistic expectations about a toddler's visit

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz July 1, 2013 06:00 AM

[This letter has been edited. Ed.]
Dear Barbara,
I wanted your advice in a situation I'm in. I have a two and a half year old daughter, [and I've] been separated for approximately a year and a half. Every other month, her dad makes contact to see how she's doing. He lives in California, I live in NC. Recently we argued because he wants me to send her there so she can spend a few months with him. I'm in no way against them spending time together but I am against sending her across the country to someone she barely even knows....Am I being overprotective? What do you suggest I do? Another thing, I recently married and my daughter calls my husband dad....They have a nice relationship but I don't want her to grow up thinking that's her real dad even if she does love him. When is the right age to explain that to her?

From: Maria, Concord, NC


About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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