Q: My biological mother died when I was 5-years-old and two years later my father married a wonderful woman who raised me and has always made me feel loved. I regard her as my mom, even though I will never forget my biological mother, but each year when Mother's Day rolls around, my aunt (my mom's sister) wants me to visit the cemetery where my ...Read more
Q: I've heard that your organization supports foster care and adoption. I'm somewhat curious, but also a bit hesitant -- and our family already has a lot on our plate. Should we get involved?
Jim: Both of my parents died by the time I was 12; I was an orphan in elementary school. So my heart goes out to the 143 million children worldwide who ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: I work as a freelance journalist, and I watch my 18-month-old son during the day. As a stay-at-home working parent, I'm constantly wondering if I should be following my son around and playing with him all day, or if it is OK to give him freedom and time to explore on his own. I worry that I am not engaging him enough when I ...Read more
Question: Whenever my 4-year-old son tries something new, he becomes very frustrated if he has any difficulty at all. This happens when practicing numbers, letters, or anything else I try to teach him. I tell him that he’s doing fine and will do better with practice, but it’s obviously not sinking in. In general, he’s a ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: It's about the time when we start trying to find summer camps for our two children. I am not sure if I should let them choose what they want to do, or if I should try to expand their horizons with something new or academic. What do you think? -- Camp Parent
Dear Camp Parent: Summer camp is one of childhood's greatest gifts....Read more
Q: I recently met and married a great woman with an 11-year-old son who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. He is very high-functioning and polite, intelligent, etc. The problem is he is EXTREMELY messy and absent-minded. He leaves for school 10 minutes after we leave for work and he leaves every single light on. One day we came home, ...Read more
Q: I've connected with a young woman from another state on the Internet. We've talked a lot on the phone and are interested in exploring our relationship further, but so far we've never met in person. Do you have any advice as to how we should proceed?
Jim: I'd encourage you to set up a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible. Bring a list of ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My kids are messy. They create disorder in all areas of the house. I feel like I constantly have to nag them for them to clean up. Sometimes I even have to yell. How can I get them to be neater and still keep my cool? -- Neater Dad
Dear Neater: Just in case you never received the memo, here it is: Kids are messy. All ...Read more
Accidental DadJoshua McDowell
Joshua McDowell is a single father on a mission. He believes being a parent is the most rewarding experience in the world. For that reason, he wants you to help him change the family court system. Each year, millions of children grow up in fatherless homes, resulting ...
Question: We are a struggling blended family. My husband has three children (ages 7, 12, 17) from a previous marriage. Their mother's home is focused on the easiest way of parenting. She allows unlimited electronics, showers the kids with presents, and does not discipline effectively at all. It’s obvious she wants to be the kids’ ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: I am a single mother with a 12-year-old daughter. I am currently pregnant with a second child. My daughter and I are very close, and I don't want our relationship to be impacted by having another child. But realistically, as a single mom, I am going to need some help around the house. Unfortunately I am no longer with the ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but I'm sick and tired of hearing parents tell their kids that they're "awesome," or "amazing" or "incredible," or any of the other overused words people use these days. The fact is that most kids aren't any of those things. I'm wondering whether we're doing damage to our society with our non-...Read more
CHICAGO -- After nine years at Google, Phoebe Elder quit in July to stay home with her two kids. Relieved to get off the hamster wheel of juggling a demanding job and family time, Elder, who lives in suburban Chicago, also feared losing the independence of having her own paycheck and the notoriously tough task of returning to work after a career...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: My family loves to swim, and every year my wife and I have the same argument. I say swimming pools are filthy and I tell our kids to keep their mouth closed while they're in the water. My wife says chlorine kills any dangerous germs and that it's perfectly fine for the kids to fill their mouths with water and squirt each other, or ...Read more
Q: Here's an ex-etiquette question for you. My ex and I were married for eight years and have been apart for four. I had no problem letting her keep my last name after we divorced because her son from a previous marriage uses the same name, but now she's remarrying and she doesn't want to change her name to the woman's last name she will be ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: In one of your columns a few months ago, you responded to a new dad who wasn't feeling terribly connected to his baby. Your advice was realistic and sensible, except for one thing: toward the end of your answer, you recommended that he tickle his baby. Tickling can sometimes become cruel, especially with toddlers and older children...Read more
Q: Can you offer any insight as to why my 13-year-old daughter has become so contrary about everything? She often seems eager to distance herself from me. I'm not a controlling parent, but it's tough to see how she's acting all of a sudden.
Jim: I understand where you're coming from. Commenting on the struggle parents experience during the teen...Read more
Dear Family Coach: We live in the city. On the weekends, many parents leave their kids alone in their apartments while they visit their country houses. Their kids often have parties while they're gone. I have forbidden my 15-year-old son from attending parties when a parent isn't home. My son is complaining that he doesn't have any friends ...Read more
Kids hear more than enough four-letter words and dumbed down "adult" lyrics through car radios and in stores; they don't need more of it on their own time. These made-for-children CDs are smart, appropriate, fun and entertaining.
"I Believe in Little Things" from Diana Panton; Little Things; $16.
Oozing elegance and swinging soul, Canadian ...Read more
Question: Our 7-year-old son has sucked his thumb forever and more or less constantly. He has recently switched to sucking his index finger and putting his right hand down the back of his pants at the same time. This is driving us CRAZY!!! I read your response to a question recommending "if you catch him sucking his thumb outside his room...Read more
Dear Family Coach: We live on a street with mostly boys. My daughter has no problem playing with the boys her age, but she doesn't play much with other girls. I'm wondering if I should put more energy into organizing play dates with girls. She does interact with girls during after-school activities. But is that enough girl time, or will she be...Read more