Q: My son’s close friend is in a household where the parents are rarely home. He just seems very lonely, and is over at our house all the time. Is there a way for us to “parent” him without usurping his own parents’ roles?
Q: My kids are driving me crazy with their wardrobes. My son wants to wear baggy pants that fall off, and my daughter’s leggings look like they were painted on. How can I make them dress more modestly?
Q: I think my daughter is binge eating and purging. I’ve found empty packages of cookies and candy in her wastebasket, but her clothes are hanging on her. I’m afraid she has an eating disorder – what do I do?
Q: My ex-wife married a man who is a much tougher disciplinarian than I am. He isn’t abusive, but they tell me he yells and screams a lot. What is the best way for me to deal with this?
A: My mother’s warm heart led her to open our home twice in this way when I was young. As is frequently the case, these stays with our family were short-lived. It can be challenging to find the balance between compassion and societal concerns.
Q: My mother-in-law is a recovering alcoholic. She’s been sober a year. She is dying to baby-sit our newborn son, but I am a little nervous about leaving her alone with him. What if she falls off the wagon? How should I handle this?
A: Your concerns highlight the fact that recovery from addiction involves the entire family and not just one individual. Honesty and connectedness need to be a key part of your family’s relationship with your mother-in-law.
I am 17 and the oldest of five children. My parents treat me as their built-in baby-sitter every weekend. I never get a chance to make social plans because they are always busy with their friends and leaving me with my little brothers and sisters. Is it ever OK for me to say “no”?
Often, older children in large families have many responsibilities with regard to their siblings, but it seems your family system needs to find a balance so that every member has an opportunity for outside social engagements.
Q: My daughter was invited to a sleepover where I don’t know the parents well. I’m a little uncomfortable with this, given all you read in the news. Am I just a mom who is over-reacting?
Q: I gave up my daughter for adoption shortly after I gave birth. Now that she is grown, I want to find her. What should I expect?
Q: My husband thinks our daughter is too old for her security “blankie” and wants to throw it out. Is 4 really too old? And how should we handle this?
A: Although there were several blue blankets in our home, there was only one “blue blankie” as far as our daughter, Erin, was concerned. The comfort and warmth it provided went beyond the physical into a realm of psychological comfort.