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8-y-old's "back chat" wearing mom down

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

Hi there,

I am the mother of an 8 year old girl. She is very strong willed, knows her own mind and very determined, all traits I do love about her but we at constant battles at the moment. She is back chatting and arguing with me constantly and being very disrespectful. I am firm and I punish her by sending her to her room or taking things away from her, like the tv or computer or she misses out on doing things because of her behaviour. She accepts her punishment and always apologizes and we talk about it and how it made each of us feel and about better choices she could make. She takes it all in and listens and then...bam..again with the back chat and's like it's just not sinking in and I am at a loss in what to do as I want to have this under control before she becomes a teenager and I don't want to squash the traits that I admire in her but I just want her to be respectful and think before she acts. I often give her a choice as as I have asked and it's ok, don't do it and you loose I give her the choice, most times she always makes the right choice but with a "OH FINE THEN< I"LL DO IT" and pulls a face....any advice would be much appreciated and I am wiling to put in the hard work to get results as she is an amazing little person, I just want her to be respectful to us and her brother and stop the yelling. Thanks for your time.

From: Janiene, Aukland


Girls' friendships can turn on a dime

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 27, 2012 06:00 AM

My 11 year old daughter got into a fight with her best friend a few weeks ago. Her friend would be mean to her or jealous at times. I always told her to try and talk to her and work it out. It just got worse and now they don't talk at all. She asked me to try to talk to her friend's mom and I did and she didn't help the situation at all. She basically ignored me and then I told my daughter to just back off for a while. My daughter is going into middle school and she does have other friends but it seems like there's always so much fighting and mean talk . I have 2 other children and never went through anything this extreme. I just want her to have a good start to middle school. So I guess what I'm asking is, did I give her the right advice by telling her to back off? She was always so stressed with her friend and it just didn't seem like a healthy friendship.

From: Karen, Silver Creek, NY


Single mom and preteen sleep together on weekends

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz May 10, 2012 06:00 AM

I am a single mom to my daughter, age 10. It's just me and her and we are very close. On weekends, I let her sleep in my bed and we hang out and chat and sleep in late. We really enjoy this but I want to make sure it is not harmful for her development. By the way, I don't plan on having a male relationship until she is grown up because she is my top priority, and haven't dated anyone since I broke up with her dad four years ago. Thanks for your insights!

From: Barbsboy, Townsend (no state given)


Mom's relationship is causing a breach with preteen

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz May 9, 2012 06:00 AM

[This letter has been condensed and edited.]

Hi Barbara.

I am going through something that does not make sense. I am a single mother. I have three children, Jonathan is 14 1/2 and has Asperger's syndrome, Amanda is 12 and Beverly is 7. The background is that my daugther, Amanda, was not yet born when her father and I separated. He is not involved in her life due to his mental illness. Minor attempts on our part at involving him have failed. She always wanted a dad and when she was 5 years old, I got involved with a man who cunningly pushed his way into our lives. I had a daughter with him. She is 7 years now. He was in our lives for 2 years, however, because he is a drug addict, he disappeared five years ago, and we have not seen or heard from him since.

Amanda loved him very much and missed him badly, as did his 2-year-old daughter. In the last five years, I have only focused on being mom and dad to my children, working, going to college, PTA president, church, etc. We are a low-income family, getting by....I bought this old broken down house when I was 21, 9 years before I married Amanda and Jonathan's dad.

A man came into our lives, as a friend, and has been a friend for a year and a half. My children have known him for the entire time and have seen him every week and sometimes three or four times a week for all this time. They have grown to trust him, love him and enjoy countless hours of his company. This man and I were only friends and were never interested in becoming a couple. We are Christians and neither one of us date or become sexually involved outside of marriage. We discovered about one month ago our feelings [of] deep love for each other. It grew over time.

We thought all the children would be overjoyed, as all of them often said they wished we would marry....Jonathan and Beverly are happy about it. Amanda is not. She is angry. she threatens to kill herself if I marry him. She is telling me that other men I know are better choices. Jeff works. He supports himself. He helps support his mother, but he is not wealthy. She went from loving Jeff and having fun with him often to being downright cruel and mean to both of us, almost all of the time. I do not understand. I am worried. I am searching for answers. I want to know what to do.

Amanda has a counselor she sees for some anxiety issues. The counselor explained that I cannot turn off my love for Jeff. That it is my choice who I want to be with. Barbara, I am not, we are not, imposing him as a father figure to any of the children.... I am still in the role of mom and dad until that were to happen, if it can.... We do not flaunt our relationship in front of her, but we are seeing each other almost daily and we are kind to each other. It is hard to hide the joy of caring for each other in this new way and we sometimes using words like "dear" and hugging more often, although we always hugged before. I tell her I care how she feels, but she needs to uphold a standard of treating others with respect, and I know that she loves Jeff, because a person does not "pretend to love someone" for a year and a half, and then suddenly not care about them anymore and hate them. She says that she liked Jeff until he liked her mom, and now she hates him. She makes threats to kill herself or others if we ever marry. I just do not understand any of this.

From: Mary, Margate, NJ


Weighing in on "Hunger Games"

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

Barbara, can you weigh in on "The Hunger Games" movie? I'm one of those parents with a 10-year-old who is as determined as the ones in the Page 1 story in the Globe today and I'm the mother who's opposed. I know you've written about this in the past and I'd really value your opinion.

From: Tina, Wakefield, MA


When the mom-daughter dynamic suddenly changes

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 16, 2012 06:00 AM

[This letter has been condensed. BFM]
Hi there,
I have an 11 year old daughter. Her father left when she was 1...I am from a family with two parents and was at a total loss as to how to go about this divorce thing, however, I knew for sure that I wanted my daughter to have her father in her life. In the past 10 years I have really bent over backwards to accommodate him, even giving him the keys to my home so he could be with her on certain days.
....He has always paid me child support. However, he says, this money means that I have to do EVERYTHING for her, this is what he pays me for! He won't bring her to and from his place every time he has her, I do it every other week etc.

Through all this, he will openly make fun of me, where I'm from (EU), my cooking, my child rearing skills to his friends in front of my daughter....Barbara, I think you get the picture here. It is a rotten place to be as a mother and I try my best to not put my child in the middle, however, recently she has seen me kick her father out of my home for being totally rude and very disrespectful to me. I explained to my daughter that no one is allowed to treat me like this, not my mother, not her and not her father. She was angry with me for a while then she understood.

She and I have a good relationship, however, she is hitting 11 and the hormones are kicking in. The other day she told me that she thinks her dad is much smarter than me and that his conversations with her are so interesting, much more that mine. I only talk about her and her life and school and what she wants and does etc, where as, her dad talks to her all about his life and his issues and that is much more interesting.

How do I handle this?
Please help.

From: Nora, Cambridge, MA


More boys eating badly

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz November 7, 2011 06:00 AM

My son is now 13 and will not eat anything other than chicken nuggets, fries, pizza or chips. It all began as a toddler, around the age of 3, he got sick one day and began vomiting. We took him to the dr. they said it had something to do with his asthma and he would be fine. The vomiting I assumed was a flu like symptom. He did in fact get better, but from that day forward his eating habit had changed forever! He went from a normal child, eating and drinking everything to only the few items I now listed above. When I attempt to introduce regular food, he gags and vomits. It has been a struggle for years now and his grandparents have him a large part of the time while I work, and they give in and feed him what he wants. I don't know what else to do. He is getting big in his mid section and it's becoming a problem for him as he is now a teenager. But with him continuing to eat this way, I fear it will get worse. He doesn't seem to gag with the junk he eats. What shall I do? His physician doesn't have any answers for me. Please help....

From: Teresa, Stockton, CA


Too much 9/11 coverage?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz September 15, 2011 06:00 AM


My daughter is 12, so she was too young to understand when 9/11 happened. But she seems preoccupied with it now. As a family( two other, children, 14 & 17), we watched some of the coverage Sunday. we were all kind of glued to it for a while, but then left the room. She ended up watching by herself for more than an hour, I think, because it was at least that long before I went back in to find her still watching. It was the channel where relatives were reading the names of victims. Many of these readers were children, some of them her age.

Today is Monday. She didn't sleep well last night, came to my side of the bed at some point. (I let her stay.) I'm worried about her and worried that I made a huge mistake not to monitor her viewing better. We've had several conversations. Now what?

From: BadMom? Cleveland


tags ey

Social outcast or just off the bell curve?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz June 27, 2011 06:00 AM

What do you think about a 14-year-old, 8th-grade girl who lacks interest in going to all junior high dances at her public junior high school, including the big, end-of-year semi-formal dance that even her close friends will attend, with a small party before and after at one girl's house? She has not gone to any dances -- I believe there have been 6 or 8 dances. Would you worry as a mother? This is a friend's daughter, and my gut tells me there may be something to worry about, something to talk about, but I don't know -- I wonder if it's maybe in the realm of normal and I am just falling prey to peer pressure -- i.e., "since 99% of the students go, it must be good" sort of thing and "whoever doesn't go is a loser" sort of thing .... My friend asked me if she should worry and I really don't know the answer...

From: MG, Cape Cod


How can mom help her 6th grader?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz May 23, 2011 06:00 AM

Here's my situation:

I have 2 children. Not wanting to brag....but both are academically gifted! They both have some social troubles however. I worry about both of them, as they are not well accepted by their peers. They are both kind and caring to others, but do not always get treated likewise. My 6th grader is overweight...that is one thing that she is teased about, but her biggest "issue" is not that. She is teased about about being smart...the first quarter of school this year she received 3 top academic awards. If this were an athletic achievement, that recipient would have the "red carpet treatment" . This is not the case for a student who is "just a smart kid" She is proud of success, as are her Dad and I.She spent most of her 5th grade year "hating" school---because of the teasing. It was reported that she was being bullied----the students that were "called on it", still are not nice to her this year. She was "counseled" by the (then) principal to just ignore them and go about her business.

What I am wondering is how I can help her and why she has to be the one that has to continue to put up with the crap? She is a part of a rather small class, as we are a small school district. She has attended school with most of the kids since pre-school. She doesn't have many friends--none of the girls in her class are her friend----this is tough, especially at this age. She already has ideals for her future, and that is to be a Marine Biologist! Academically she can do this!! And as an adult I believe she will do fine, but she wants to be a "normal kid"---her words last year were "I just want to be normal, not the fat smart girl"! Any suggestions?

From: Jane, LP


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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