Q. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but since I've broken up with the kids' dad, I hate when October rolls around. I've been letting their dad go trick-or-treating with us for the last two years (we altered the parenting plan for that day only), but this year he's taking them to Disneyland over the weekend and I won't see them. I'm so ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: My 12-year-old daughter won't shower, she won't brush her teeth, and she wears the same clothes every day -- and sometimes even sleeps in them. Honestly, she's not very pleasant to be around. Is this normal? Either way, how can I motivate her to be a little cleaner?
A: This probably won't help you feel any better -- and it ...Read more
Q: I am becoming increasingly concerned that my daughter, who is a sophomore in high school, is bullying another girl in her class. For the past few weeks, I have been uncomfortable with conversations that I have overheard between my daughter and some of her friends and also from what I have witnessed by looking at her social media sites. I ...Read more
So what can you do? It might be a good idea to begin by enlisting the help of another adult -- preferably someone your son likes and respects -- who can join you in advocating for your granddaughter. Raise the subject gently but as straightforwardly as possible. Help your son and his wife see that this is more than just a question of personal ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My kids whine and complain about everything. It's nonstop, and I'm losing my mind. I can't take it, but I also can't seem to fix it. Help! -- Desperate Dad
Dear Dad: I know whereof you speak. That whiny, nagging, cringe-worthy voice from children is like nails on a chalkboard. Toddlers whine about having to put on shoes for...Read more
Kids' music has come a long way. Here are some of the newest and most playful, thoughtful, lush CDs to have come my way in a while. This is part one of two columns full of happily pleasing family music.
"Simpatico" from Renee & Friends; One Melody Records; $11.19 CD, $8.99 digital
"Simpatico" reeks of coolness, from its zippy opening "Gather...Read more
Question: My 14-year-old son started public high school this year and immediately fell into his old bad habits. He’s intelligent and capable of making consistently excellent grades, but he often does less than he’s capable of. He also tends to wait until the last minute before he begins something like a book report. I’m on the ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: Our 15-year-old daughter is very concerned about her best friend. The friend is crumbling under the stress of school and extracurricular activities and appears to be suffering from severe depression. Our child tries hard to be a good friend and a shoulder to lean on, but she often feels it isn't enough. We are all concerned ...Read more
The Christmas BearCatherine Wentworth Bellizzi
Timmy is no ordinary Teddy Bear. He comes into different people's lives and changes them forever. And what a perfect time for him to do his magic than at Christmastime? Follow Timmy in this rhyming, read-aloud story as he travels from the assembly line and into the hearts of those who need ...
Q: About two months ago, my 6-year-old daughter started believing there was a monster in her closet, and I don't know where this idea came from. To alleviate her anxiety, I installed a night light in her closet and even went so far as to take the doors off so she could clearly see that nothing was hiding in there.
Bedtime has become a dreaded...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: I just heard that my ex-wife is moving in with her boyfriend. We've been divorced for nearly two years and she wasn't cheating on me, but I'm furious. Plus, I'm worried about how this is going to affect my kids and my relationship with them. Why am I so upset, and what do you suggest that I do?
A: Discovering that your former wife...Read more
Q. Although my parents divorced when I was very young and I lived mostly with my mom, I've always been very close to my dad. My mom remarried when I was seven, and I am also very close to my bonusdad. I'm getting married in three months and would like them both to walk me down the aisle, but my dad says, "Over his dead body!" I don't know what ...Read more
Q: My husband and I were married this past spring. We had a great summer and especially enjoyed doing things together during the weekend. Then came fall -- and with it college football season. I knew my husband was a fan, but now that we're married I'd prefer to be spending Saturdays doing things together that we're both interested in, ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My daughter is in sixth grade and just got her first cellphone. I am tempted to check her texts and Instagram account, but that feels like spying. How much privacy should I give her with her phone? -- Prying Dad
Dear Dad: Even toddlers know how to use iPhones and DVRs these days. But knowing how to play an app or watch a ...Read more
These slightly spooky tales will get your little ones in the mood for Halloween -- without scaring them silly.
"Happy Halloween, Witch's Cat!" by Harriet Muncaster; HarperCollins; 28 pages; $15.99.
Harriet Muncaster's charming picture book lives in a world of adorable miniatures with whimsical animation added that makes you feel like you're ...Read more
The following statement is true: A child’s natural response to the proper presentation of authority is obedience.
The following statement is also true: Most of today’s parents -- I’d estimate over 90 percent—do not act like authority figures.
A woman tells me her 5-year-old does not do what she tells him to do. I disagree, pointing out...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My son is 13, and we have always done Halloween as a family. This year he wants to trick-or-treat with his friends. We live in very safe area so I'm not worried about anything bad happening. But I am heartbroken we won't be celebrating as a family. Should he be with his friends or should I have him stay with the family? -- ...Read more
Q. This is the first year my husband and I have allowed our 12-year-old son to play tackle football. He is a very talented athlete and does well in this sport; however, he recently suffered a minor concussion during a game that has left us concerned about him continuing on with the team. We realize kids can get injured at any time doing most ...Read more
Q: Every so often Facebook sends me a suggestion for "friends" -- "People you might know." I saw my stepdaughter's name and visited her page. It's filled with pictures of the family, my husband included, but none of me. I reached out and asked to be a friend -- thinking I could keep up on Facebook. This was a week ago. I saw her yesterday and ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: My 7-month old baby is happy and playful when he's at home. But when I take him to my new dads' group (yes, that's a real thing), he seems to have zero interest in interacting with the other kids. The same thing happens at the park or anywhere else where there are other babies. I'm worried that there's something wrong with him or ...Read more
Q. I have been searching the Internet for days trying to determine what is going on with my son, to no avail! He has always had "quirks," and people have described him as "odd," "flighty" and a "daydreamer." He is very interested in science, Legos and the video game Minecraft. When he was little, he would sit for hours and put together these ...Read more