Dear WholeMom, My father-in-law died recently. The family is planning a graveside memorial service for him and my eight-year-old son wants to be there. He's a mature kid for his age, but I'm not sure that he'll be able to handle this. On the other hand, he was not at the funeral and he says he really wants to go. He's never been in a cemetery. What do you think?
QWe have three boys, ages 10, eight, and six, who were attending school in a small town private school. Our oldest child has always been extremely bright. He enjoyed being popular and head of his class (and the class ahead of him.) This past summer, my husband asked the school to move him up a grade to keep him challenged. The school denied his request. So we moved all three boys to a Catholic school in a larger town 25 miles away. It has only been two weeks and no one is happy.
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. Lyn kept pulling on Daddy's pants and wouldn't let him leave, but Mommy finally stopped her from running down the steps after him.
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. Your Stories (Children of Divorce) 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. Just look at what Brandon's going through. You're probably older than him, but some of the things he says are true for older kids too.
Dear WholeMom, My twelve-year-old daughter has been hanging out with a group of kids lately who I am not crazy about. The girls dress in very slutty clothes and they go to movies that are not appropriate for kids their age. When I question my daughter about where she is going she gets defensive and says, "Everyone does it. They come from good families so if their parents let them go, it must be okay." It's true they come from good families but our values are somewhat more strict.
Dear WholeMom: I am struggling with my nine year old son. For the past two years he has become increasingly rude and even yells at me. He doesn't seem to realize that he is yelling or being rude. Anything I say to him gets a negative response with an inappropriate tone. I am finding it very hard to come up with positive things about him. He was an only child for seven years and now has a two year old sister. He said to me once, "Why do you only like us when we are babies?" It is hard because my two year old is so good and my nine year old seems to thrive on negative attention.
By the last week of the summer the mothers in the park were prostrate. I had to revive a friend with smelling salts. The worst heat of the summer. The pool was closed because of problems with unidentified bacteria and other floating matter. The mothers were beside themselves. They couldn't bear the thought of one day more with the children. One day more of inventing activities. How many projects can you do with egg boxes and food coloring? How many days can you have mud tramped through the house as the kids traipse back and forth into the house from the wading pool? How many days can you feed the children three meals, all before noon? How many baking projects can you manage in the stifling hot kitchen? How many mobiles with wire hangars can you help a child create? How many paper plate faces? How many crayon melts in the oven? There are always some mothers who enjoy summer.
We moved across country two years ago and our 16-year-old daughter still hasn't forgiven us for it. She blames us for uprooting her and she misses her friends terribly. Because she was very attached to her friends, we promised her before we came that she could go back summers. As the summer approaches and she prepares to leave, the pain of separation from her old friends seems to surface even more. She has good friends here but she seems fixated on the fact that we've uprooted her. I want to let her express her feelings, but I feel she becomes abusive. Is it a mistake to keep sending her back? How can we help her resolve this painful issue? A Guest Expert Naomi Raz, MSW, replies: Moving an adolescent is a not a simple matter.
Dear WholeDad, Hi! I'm a 13-year-old girl and the youngest of 5. My father passed away six years ago. It didn't seem to bother me then but now it does. I really miss him more now than ever. Is this normal??? Katie Dear Katie, I would think that what you are experiencing is absolutely normal. At the age of seven, the level of maturity of most kids is nowhere near that which it takes to comprehend and process the tragedy of a loss as great as losing a father. Not only that, your family probably tried to soften the impact by shielding you as much as possible. As you grow older, with your values beginning to take shape, you began to realize the depth of such a loss.
My first day of high school was probably the worst day of my life. My parents were forcing me to attend a prep school 45 minutes from my home. Out of a class of 110 incoming freshmen, I knew no one. Not a single person. I had spent the last eight years in a class with 30 kids; I had not had to make a new friend at school since the first grade. I don't think I have ever felt as lonely as I did that day, before or since. So of course I entered school that first day with a massive chip on my shoulder.
I have been working only part-time (15-25 hrs. a week) since my little boy was born. He is now five years old, and I am going back to a full forty-hour workweek. He is, of course, in kindergarten for a couple of hours in the afternoons. Daddy will be taking care of him during the day--I won't be home until 5:15 PM or so. I have so many fears that he will be missing out on all our great times together (painting, sleigh riding, baking cookies, playing in the leaves, etc.
To prepare my young children for an new experience or transition such as going on vacation, starting preschool, the birth of a sibling or staying with Grandma for the weekend without us, I make small, stapled construction paper books that explain and illustrate what is about to happen. You don't have to be an artist or a writer to create "transition books" for your kids. I write one or two sentences per page and illustrate with photographs or pictures cut out from magazines (art is not my strength!) When I feel ambitious, I cover them with clear contact paper.
It's a daily battle to get our seven-year-old to brush his teeth. Any recommendations? A Guest Expert Judith Tanenbaum, DMD, replies: The basics are: demonstrate and explain, over and over and over. Tell your child that just as he has to wash his hands to get the dirt off, so he has to brush his teeth to get off the special dirt that accumulates there. Show your child the white creamy substance that appears on his teeth when they are not properly brushed and explain that this substance, called plaque, is full of germs. But unlike dirty hands, which actually look clean after they are washed, plaque is a white substance found on white teeth, so it doesn't show up very well.
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