all entries with the category


Mom: Stop blaming the friend who's a "bad influence."

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz September 21, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,

Three and a half years ago my husband had an affair with a neighbor. She and I weren't friends but we were friendly since we had children in school together. Our kids are now 13 and 16. I've since found out that she is not well-like in town. My husband and I separated and they stayed together for a few years but are now apart. My daughter never liked her daughter because she was the mean girl at school. They never played together or hung out. My daughter's friends weren't allowed to play with this girl either. After our separation when my husband had his visitation times, he would sleep at the girlfriend's house creating an environment that made my daughter have to play with her's. The girls eventually became friends since they were together so much. This girl is still the mean girl and she's rubbing off on my daughter. My daughter was never disrespectful to me, mean to other children or anything like that. She is a very good kid. She gets excellent grades and plays 2 sports. But lately she has been very disrespectful to me, talking back, gossiping about other girls, swearing and things like that. Now that my husband and this woman are no longer together, I don't want my daughter at her house. Even though I don't like that she's friends with this girl, I told her she can be friends with her but I don't want her hanging out at her house due to my feelings about this woman. This causes a huge fight everytime I find out that she's over there. My daughter always uses the excuse that the woman isn't home when they're there. I also think the girls shouldn't be in the house alone. Other parents have told me they don't let their children play there because there is no adult supervision a lot of the time. Obviously I despise this woman and don't want her near my children. Both my kids are aware of the affair. Am I wrong to not want her in that house?


Sister's sexual orientation unclear

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 29, 2012 06:00 AM

My younger sister (who is 16 now) is questioning her sexuality. She told me that she sometimes gets crushes on girls and that she is afraid of it because she doesn't know what to do.Our parents and our family in general is very unsupportive and we never had a bisexual or gay/lesbian person in our family or friend circle. She said that she didn't sleep with a girl but that she would if she was in love with one. I've tried to tell her that it's okay to feel that way and that she shouldn't worry about anything yet because the feelings might change. But even if they don't, I will still be there for her, supporting her no matter what. My question is - Is it normal for her to feel that way? She said that she likes 60% of boys and 40% girls and it's been like that since she was really young. Does this mean she's bisexual? or bi-curious?
Thank you!

From: Loreen, Nottingham, UK


Boys have eating problems, too

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz June 15, 2012 06:00 AM

I am the mother of a 13-14 year old whose diet is not terribly good. I am very worried that he is underweight and whilst I see his school friends shooting up, he still seems very small. When I ask him to try other foods, he just shrugs and avoids conversations about foods. I feel sad that he isn't trying new stuff and worry for his future. What should I do?

From: Joann, Paignton, UK


Teens who abuse

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz May 30, 2012 06:00 AM

I have a 16 year old son who has used marijuana at times over the last two years. We have grounded him, taken privileges away, etc but have maintained a loving, helpful relationship with him and have driven home the point that we love him unconditionally. Last night he came home high and we found pot in his car. He has had his driver's license 3 weeks and we have a driving contract wherein he agreed that using / having / storing drugs was not allowed and he would lose driving privileges. There are many things in life he has right - everyone talks about what a good kid he is, he makes good grades, etc. However he continues to fall back into the same routine. We are a christian family and live in a peaceful, loving home where we teach our boys that God loves them and so do we, and that they will never be perfect and we don't expect them to be. I'm not sure where to go from here. Do we just stick with the driving contract and say he can't drive for 2 weeks and then give him back the keys? Do we ground him as obviously can't be trusted to be where he says he will be?

From: B, Atlanta


HS daughter wants to move in with dad

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz May 23, 2012 06:00 AM


I have a 15 year old daughter in High School who should be in the 10th grade but has repeated the 9th grade. Her second year in high school will be ending in a few weeks and she is still failing. She's a smart girl that seems to be easily distracted by her friends and social activities. I have spent at least 500 dollars on Summer School (which for some reason she always passes) to try to get her caught up. But her work has still piled up. After fooling around the entire year she has expressed to me that she wants to move with her Dad and attend school in another district so that she could start over fresh. I have no problem with this if I think her habits would change. I explain to her how important education is and it is her responsibility and I don't want her to run from her responsibilities. However, on the flip side.I honestly have not been doing the greatest job at monitoring her assignments because of a 4hr round trip commute that I have everyday. I am currently looking for work with a shorter commute. I'm thinking that maybe she would have more of a disciplinary figure with her father. I'm not sure what to do. Please advise! Thank you.

From: Renee,Catasaqua, PA


For now, forget the HS diploma for stepson

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 23, 2012 06:00 AM

Just googling to find something that might help our situation. My step son has been failing more classes than passing all through high school. He will be 18 this month. He is diagnosed with ADD since just prior to high school but I think rather than finding ways to help him cope with ADD, he has been using it as an excuse all along. Technically, he "should" be graduating this year but was re-enrolled as a second year Junior. He is attempting 30 units this semester and looks like he may attain 15. His average semester units have been about 12 rather than the 30 or so required. At this point, he has a multitude of core classes left to pass next year. Since he has only been able to pass maybe one core class ( the kind with homework..English, history, science, math) per semester, he has enough elective credits but need the hard stuff. I don't see this happening at all. We enrolled him at a boarding school as a Senior last fall in an attempt to get him the help he needs but he was expelled after 3 months resulting in a huge financial loss. Upon returning to public school he is again failing as before. He does smoke marijuana and makes no bones about it. He says everyone does and he will smoke if he wants to. He has about 65 credits in hard classes yet to pass, but keeps insisting he will graduate...a year late..but will graduate. There is no way, short of a miracle, that he will do this considering his past record. He doesn't do homework unless he is made to sit down and do it. If he would take responsibility and see the reality maybe something would change, but I don't see any changes happening. I think the school is about ready to suggest he drop out and go to adduct [sic] school since this environment is clearly not working for him. Can you help? Advice please?

From: Concerned stepmom, Napa, CA


Should we censor our kids' music?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 17, 2012 06:00 AM

When it comes to censorship in music do you think it should be allowed?

From: Tweak, Mason City, Iowa


Snooping is not typically worth the information you get

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 21, 2012 06:00 AM

My high school daughter went to the school dance this weekend and one of her best friends arrived at the dance drunk. I know this because I read my daughter's journal this morning. My daughter is confused, and very mad and disappointed in her friend, as stated in her journal, and is ready to end the relationship with her friend if it doesn't change. While I'm glad that was her reaction to her friends' drinking, it sets itself up as a teaching moment. But to have this teaching moment, I need to divulge that I read her journal, which I don't want to do. Should I just keep quiet? We had a discussion when I picked her up at the end of the dance, and she said some of the older kids were drunk and said, "I don't understand why they do that? What is the point?" So we did have a discussion then about how they think they are being cool and how it can lead to trouble etc., but at the time I didn't know she was talking about her friend. Thank you Barbara!

From: info withdrawn at LW's request


Stepmom is at a breaking point

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 15, 2012 06:00 AM

[This letter has been condensed, BFM]

I feel like a terrible person that I have such anger and resentment ... toward my stepson. My husband and I are late 40's and have been together for 5 years; his son has spent summers with us, and he is now 19. His mom is remarried and lives 1000 miles away. He came to stay with us last June and ...enrolled at our local community college.

Fast forward to the end of the semester, and he failed all his classes by simply never attending (while pretending to go off to school each day). Add to this, that this boy has never done a single chore in his lifetime; he is the only child of a stay-at-home mom, and has never been expected to lift a finger. My husband and I both work full time, and we come home exhausted to a kid who sits around playing video games and texting all day, and we can't even trust him to walk the dog, take out the trash, or do anything around the house.

The past year or so his attitude has become increasingly angry, sullen and combative. He calls his mother and father terrible names, complains about everything, posts disrespectful vitriol on Facebook, rarely emerges from his room, has violent outbursts (punched holes in walls on several occasions) and is mean to our pets.... We pay for his cell phone and give him a generous allowance for basically doing nothing.

His parents never punish or discipline him....not once have his parents so much as given him a stern talking to. This is what causes me the most resentment of all, even more than his behavior. Their tacit approach to discipline is sending the message that his behavior is acceptable for a pseudo-adult! In fact, Daddy keeps giving him money and buying him video games, throwing good money after bad. I have no problem with my husband supporting his child, or having a chance to spend time with him; what bothers me is the persistent permissiveness in the face of the boy's increasingly bad behavior.

If I even suggest that he be expected to help around the house, be taught to manage his money, or, GOD FORBID, get an actual paying job, I am routinely ignored. I realize that I don't have children and therefore can't be expected to know how to raise them, but it seems to me that there should be a modicum of common sense applied to this situation.

...This is the ONLY issue my husband and I disagree or argue about, but I am at my wit's end. I am in the middle of this bad situation, yet I am not allowed a "vote" on anything.

Do other parents of teenagers simply continue to lower the bar of expectations until it finally sinks to the level of their child's behavior? Is this what passes for effective parenting nowadays? How can I find any remote redeeming value in this kid so that I don't end up hating him? Is it too late for that? Is this going to ruin my otherwise wonderful marriage????

From: Frustrated in DC


Dad, just tell the kids a half-sib is on the way.

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 21, 2012 06:00 AM

Hello Barbara,

I'm struggling with how to tell the children from my first marriage that they are going to have a new half-sibling and I hoped for some advice.

Over 4 years ago their mother and I split up and I moved out. It took quite a while for us to initiate and finalize a divorce but that was eventually done last summer, almost 3 1/2 years after we separated. Not long after the separation I began a long distance relationship with a wonderful woman (I lived on the East Coast and she lived in California). Almost a year ago I moved to California. We agreed not to tell my children (ages 21 and 18) about her until after the divorce was finalized. Finally, almost 6 months after the divorce and almost a year after I moved, they visited California and met my new partner for the first time. The visit went well and was without drama. However, just before they visited, we learned that we are expecting (we are delighted). We didn't tell them at the time but we are now through the first trimester and I need to break the news. Would you please provide me with some advice on how to bring this up? My son is 21 and a senior in college on the east coast and my daughter is 18 and a freshman so it's not feasible for me to do this in person. My relationships with them are not great, we rarely speak, though not through lack of my trying. I'm very anxious about this and am deeply concerned that this will be a huge wedge in an already fragile relationship. My partner and I both feel that we would like my children to be part of our lives and to also have a relationship with their new half-sibling. Also, should I tell their mother directly or let the children break the news to her? If you suggest that I tell her directly, is that something I should do subsequent to telling my kids? What insights might you have for us?

From: AN, California


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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