Our 16-year-old son is at boarding school and comes home on weekends. When he does, he and his 10-year-old brother fight like cats and dogs. The dinner table, which used to be a nice place with easy give-and-take, has turned into one long argument. I know this is because the little one wants the attention he's used to and the big one wants to talk to us because he's not home most of the time. How can we satisfy both their needs and end this constant fighting?
Dear WholeMom, I have two daughters, aged 17 and 16. Lately they appear not to like each other. The 17-year-old doesn't like her sister's friends and lets it be known and not very nicely. The 16-year-old takes it very personally and fires back in a nasty tone. This is getting worse and now they don't seem to like anything about each other. The younger says she needs to move away for a time to get away from her sister because she "can't take it anymore." I think they should work things out but have run out of ideas. Neither has a nice word to say to the other and life here has gotten miserable for everyone. Moving out is not an option as there is no place to go.
My friend Elaine is 36 years old but she has not yet learned to sit. She can stand, occasionally, but generally, she's in motion. She is chasing her two-year-old, wiping chocolate off her four-year-old daughter's lovely face, or teaching her seven-year-old to ride a bike or her nine-year-old to jump rope. She is outside with them all afternoon, or inside, baking or doing projects. When the kids go to sleep, Elaine cleans or paints something. Thursday nights, she cooks two full meals (feasts, really) for her frequent weekend guests.
Dr. Michael Tobin's prescriptions for a healthy parent-teen relationship prompted many reactions from our readers. Though some consider the article "a pretty good description of kids and parents today", other claim that "it just won't work" in their circumstance. Here is a sampling of the responses we received.
I'm 15, and I'm scared of my Dad. He used to hit me hard when I was in elementary school whenever he got angry, or sometimes he threw me against walls. He stopped doing that in 7th grade because he realized I was old enough to report the "violence". Even though he's not hitting me anymore, I'm still scared of him. Now, whenever he gets mad at me, he just makes hitting gestures, like lifting his fist or belt, and screaming and then cornering me. I know he won't really hit me, but it's already frightening enough to know that he always has a temptation to do it, and he's only holding himself back. God forbid if one day he can't hold himself back I don't know what's gonna happen to me. He told me that in those exact words, "If I ever fail to hold back my temptation, I swear you will end up in the hospital!" I've tried talking to him heart-to-heart, but he always ends-up saying that he can't help it, its just the way he naturally is. He knows how I feel already, but it's like a habit for him, or something. How can I adjust? - Scared of My Dad
Nicole is 13. Her older sister Jenny is 15. They're getting ready for school. Nicole: What did you do to your hair? It looks weird. Jennie: Why don't you just shut up? Nicole: Did you cut it? You cut it yourself? Mom is going to kill you. Mom, Mom! Jennie: Just shut up. Leave her out of it.
QHow do you communicate with teenagers who keep seeing each other in a bad light? Two of my children, aged 17 and 19, attack each other verbally every day. There is lots of blame and negativity and it rips me apart. I try to teach them to give the benefit of doubt, but they consistently assume each other's intentions are bad. How can I effectively help my teenage siblings to get along with each other? Guest Expert, Jackie Goldman, M.S., answers: My feeling is that you cannot play the role of judge and jury.
Ed and Caroline are in the process of getting divorced. Tanya, their 13-year- old daughter, is discussing her feelings about Ed's new girlfriend, Laurie. Ed met Laurie when the car she was driving skidded and crashed into Ed and Caroline's front hedge. Laurie is a divorced mother of a three-year-old and a five-year-old.
It's true. More than half of all marriages end in divorce. Probably half the kids in your class have only a mom at home. But knowing that didn't make it any easier when your dad walked out. It's not fair. Your Mom and Dad couldn't get their act together and you have to suffer. Maybe you even think that you could have done something to stop it, or, when you're really feeling down, you might even think that it had something to do with you. It didn't. First, I'll set you straight about that one and then give you some advice on how to get through this tough time.
Brandon, 6 1/2, comes home one evening to discover his Daddy is leaving home. He can't understand why his parents can't solve their problems without his Daddy moving out, and he's wondering if he is to blame. I don't understand. Why did Daddy move out last night? I came home from school and he was taking out a suitcase. It looked like he was crying! Anyhow, he kind of messed my hair and said he'd see me on the weekend.
More than half of the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. So there's a good chance that either you or a friend of yours has parents who are splitting up - or who already have. Divorce hurts. I don't need to tell you that. You might feel a lot of pain and be very sad. You also might feel like you're going through this all alone.Well, you're not alone.
Lindsay: I can't tell you.
Lindsay: I'm in shock. I'm out of my mind. I'm going to kill somebody.
Gillian: What are you talking about?
Lindsay: I saw her.
I want to live with my dad and his new family in the new house he bought them. I feel left out of his life, but also responsible for my mother, because my dad is always doing things to hurt her. I will have no place to live if I don't stand by her. The problem is, I don't like her or love her; I just pity her. I want him to stop hurting her, so I can go and live with him and have fun and a good time, not always hearing all the problems she has with where to live and all the bills she has to pay. What can I do? - Responsible for Mom
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"The Battle of Parents and Teens"