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.
Q Dear WholeMom, I feel it's never too late to train my biological kids to pick up, although I have always taught them to pick up after themselves since they've been little. They usually do what I say. When my 16-year-old non-custodial son stays with me over the weekend, he always cleans his room before he leaves without my asking. My stepson is a different matter. He must have always been very sloppy and gets away with it, especially at his mother's house. When he comes to stay with us, he brings his sloppy habits with him and when I or his dad ask him to clean up, he usually does not do it.
Dear WholeMom: My 11-year-old son loves to read, work on the computer and paint, but he can't sit still in school. We've received five notes from his teachers this year and it's only December! We've had him tested. He has a high I.Q. and does not have A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder), so we know that he does not have a concentration problem and is not hyperactive. He can walk into a test after he has studied the material and knows it cold, but he'll just sit and draw pictures on the test paper.
Dear WholeMom: We have four children, two girls aged 16 and 14 and two boys aged 12 and 7. The three older children go to sleep later than the youngest boy, a fact he bitterly resents. He takes out his frustrations by acting out, refusing to go to bed and jumping out once he is in. There is lots of action going on in our home in the evening and he can't seem to settle down. He's an active little kid and doesn't want to miss any of the fun, but when he goes to bed late he finds it hard to get up in the morning for school and is miserable. How can I explain to him that even though he's bright and considers himself a peer to his siblings, the rules have to be different for his age? We're not into heavy punishment and deprivation.
Dear WholeMom, I almost felt like I'm reading my own concerns about my almost twelve-year-old when I read the question about the "Unmotivated son." His teacher has advised that he will be failing his three major subjects on the next quarterly report card. His reading score in February of 99 is going to 40. He also was tested for ADD and learning disabilities, but very simply is not motivated. While his teacher has been fairly flexible, the simple fact is that success in school is measured by good grades and if you are in public school, there is very little room for special attention.
Dear WholeMom, What is your opinion about the schools blocking certain sites on Internet? A This is not a question that can be answered in a vacuum and the question of censorship of the media is not black and white. A lot depends on the general approach of the family or of the school. It is easy for schools to block certain sites on Internet and perhaps that's what should be done because even if kids can get to it elsewhere, it is sending a subliminal message from the school: this is not acceptable to us.
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? Sad in Syracuse Dear Sad, If your son did not express any desire on his own to be at the memorial service, you should certainly not suggest it to him, but he is the one who has made the request and is apparently very interested in going. It sounds like, young though he is, your son realizes that he needs "closure.
Q: Dear WholeMom ,My six year old daughter refuses to do her work at school. I have tried everything from rewards to limits on her activities. We have talked about it, we have agreed on the reward/limit system to no avail. I'm afraid she'll have to repeat kindergarten. At Wit's End WholeMom Answers: Esther Boylan Wolfson, Director, Early Childhood Development Center Answers: Dear At Wit's End, For some reason your daughter is not functioning in her kindergarten class. Without knowing anything more about her or your family situation or the class she's in, I can only suggest that you check all of the following: Is her kindergarten a well-run program in which the other children are functioning well and are happy? Is there anything going on at home that might cause her to be unhappy and to exhibit that unhappiness in school by not doing her work? If she's in a good program, has a warm, caring teacher and everything is fine at home, you should check the following: 1.
Dear WholeMom, Why isn't there a test to determine readiness for kindergarten, instead of these magical dates that are law? I have a son whose birthday is 19 days past our state cutoff date, and I feel that he's ready for kindergarten now instead of waiting a year. He thinks he's ready as well, and has been pushing the issue. He has met all of the requirements listed by the school district, such as knowing his ABC's, counting to 20, starting to read, dressing himself, etc. and is extremely bored in preschool. He even does 1000 piece puzzles and uses my home computer to entertain himself! He's been in daycare since 3 months of age, so he's used to socializing.
Dear WholeMom, What shall I do with a mother-in-law who lies and turns everything around to make herself look good and me bad in front of the rest of her children? Had Enough Dear Had Enough, Conflicts between in-laws are as old as the state of marriage! Adam and Eve were probably the only couple who never had trouble with in-laws. (Hey, who was God going to get in conflicts with - himself?) It is a rare mother-in-law who can watch her daughter/son create a new family cell with another person without experiencing a sense of loss.
Dear WholeMom, My daughter is almost 17. I was cleaning her room and found a used pregnancy testing "stick". It was wrapped in a paper towel in a little used cabinet in her room. The upsetting thing about this is that this is a child who excels in school, will likely get a full scholarship to the school of her choice and never leaves the house without telling me she loves me. I have always talked to my children about sex, consequences as it relates to health, pregnancy and the sometimes emotional turmoil that early intimate relations can result in. My question is - do I tell her I found this - let it go - or what. She was away from home during Christmas and granted, I cleaned her room and closets and cabinets - this is her personal space - and I respect this - I did not expect to find this.
I have a 15-year-old son who smokes. Not much but it's only the start. We don't know how to make him understand the situation. His two grandfathers and one grandmother died from heavy smoking and he knows it. We (parents) were also smokers in the past but not now and he doesn't get it. Please help us. - Marcia A I hope some of these ideas will help you. It is not easy to explain the concept of mortality to a teenager. Remember that song from the TV series, "Fame"? There was a line in the song, "I'm gonna live forever." I think that's the way most teenagers look at life. You say that his two grandfathers and one grandmother died from heavy smoking and "he knows it.
Dear WholeMom, I have a 21-month-old son and have just found out that I am pregnant. This second pregnancy was not planned. We live in a little two bedroom apartment and my husband and I just bought a house we are to move into in mid-October. The reason I mention this is that the baby is due in mid-November. How can I help my little boy adjust to two big changes that are happening right on top of one another? In addition, I am with him three days a week and am still nursing him (sometimes a couple of times a day). I want to wean him as I cannot nurse two children (even though I have read that the La Leche League says it's okay). We had also just bought him a potty and were going to start toilet learning-- he has started to tell us (once in a while) when he has to go.
Dear WholeMom: My daughter is 1 1/2 years old. She doesn't listen to "Time out" anymore and if I tell her to go back to "Time out" she cries or hits. The worst part is I'm very emotional because I'm 3 months pregnant. So when she cries, I cry, and then I feel like a mean mom. I really don't know how to handle this and I don't believe in hitting a child, not even a light tap. What should I do? - Emotional Mom Dear Emotional Mom: There are a number of issues to address here. The first one is your personal state of mind that is, by your own admission, "very emotional" since you are three months pregnant. The second issue is your daughter's behavior.
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. I am trying to be more positive, but he pushes all my buttons. He enjoys teaching his sister things I don't want her to do or say (for example: She says "Mommy's a jerk").
When our children were young, the family bed conundrum was a big issue for my friends and me. But like all new parents, when my oldest was an infant, I filled my shelves with books on “Parenting by Experts”. The leg up I had on the other moms in the neighborhood was that while many of my friends were getting married and having babies in their early twenties, I was 27 when Sara was born.
Q What are the benefits of letting your child sleep in your bed? A The article on Co-Sleeping in the WholeFamily site mentions a few of the beneficial effects for children who sleep with the parents -- children have a more rested mother, it's good for family bonding, and there seems to be a lower risk of SIDS. The following resources contain information about many studies on the subject. You might be especially interested in the research now in progress by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber and author Maria Goodavage who are surveying mothers, fathers, and children who have "graduated" from the family bed.
We did not need an official testing process to reveal to us what we knew from the time that our son was very young - that he was a gifted child who was not only precocious in his reading and other cognitive abilities, but whose mind worked in totally different ways from the minds of ordinary children. He was tested at the age of five at the urging of his two pre-school teachers who wanted to advance him to first grade after only one month in kindergarten.
Dear Linda, Our son, David, is 13. Until fourth grade he was a quiet kid who sat in the corner and read books. During the fourth grade a slow deterioration began in his school behavior. A psychologist told us he was understimulated and getting bored. We tried to help him hang in there a few more years. There is no gifted kids program in our area. We finally decided to partially homeschool him and have been doing so for the past two months. Now that he spends more time studying on his own than in school, he has become a much happier boy, and, ironically, his social relationships have actually improved.
As I sat by your bedside, I thought about Two books you bought me. One of them, A Little Princess, was inscribed, "To my little princess." I was ten. The other, True Gift, was inscribed, "To my daughter, who has grit in abundance." I was seventeen. The lesson I learned from the first book was that a true princess knows how to give.
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