Q: I went through an ugly divorce earlier this year. It's been very painful for both of my children as well. They're angry and have been dreading the possibility that their dad might ask them at the last minute to spend some of their Christmas break with him. What can I do?
Jim: Coming from a broken home myself (before being orphaned), I know ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My 14-year-old son has told me to get him nothing for Christmas. He says he doesn't need or want anything. Meanwhile, his brothers have long lists. Money isn't an issue, yet I'm struggling with not getting him something. I don't want him to miss getting presents, but it seems weird to force presents on a kid who doesn't care...Read more
The best children's book has just the right balance of adventure, humor and love. These new stories have all those and more.
"The Antlered Ship" by Dashka Slater; illustrated by Eric Fan and Terry Fan; Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster; 42 pages; $17.99.
With an abundance of creative award-winning talent behind this enchanting myth, "The ...Read more
Question: Our 18-year-old son made only slightly better than average grades in high school and finished in the top half of his graduating class. He could have done better, but has a history of underachievement which we explain as boredom. He managed to get into a second-tier state college but has decided after one semester (and as one ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: Anytime the topic of discipline comes up, everyone talks about how important it is to set limits. I agree, but it's a lot easier to talk about it than to actually do it, especially when the kids (mine are 4 and 8) push back and challenge everything. How do you suggest we go from talking to doing?
A: The reason people talk so much ...Read more
Q: My guy tells me he loves my kids, but I don't see it. He openly favors his own children to the point that this year he's buying his kids way better presents than he's buying mine. My kids won't know it because we don't have his kids for Christmas this year, but it's the principle of the thing. How do I get him to see he favors his kids? What'...Read more
Q: My husband lost his job five months ago, and money has been really tight. We're agonizing about Christmas. Our kids understand the situation, but I know their friends will all be getting the latest toys, games, etc. I'm dreading seeing their disappointed faces on Christmas morning. What can we do?
Jim: My heart goes out to your family. It's ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My kids' behavior has been dreadful lately. I've tried everything, and I feel like I can't make a dent. The kids love Christmas and Santa, so I'm thinking about getting The Elf on the Shelf to encourage good behavior. Even though I've totally resisted because I have no time for this, I'm hoping the behavior will at least ...Read more
Gnomes, elves and a snowy play scene star in these frosty new tales for kids that will make reading fun all year long.
"Game of Gnomes" by Kirsten Mayer; illustrated by Laura K. Horton; Imprint/Macmillan; 34 pages; $16.99.
With the Winter Olympics coming up, Kirsten Meyer's zesty story about a competitive red-haired gnome named Ginger should...Read more
In a letter to the editor of the La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune, psychologist Afton Koball and two colleagues raise objections to a recent column in which I asserted that one can be parented badly and still parent well. It comes down to one’s perspective, and is, therefore, a matter of choice. Said another way, parenting is influential but not ...Read more
BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- Carrying white flowers and a small plastic candles, families who have lost children slowly made their way down to the Angel of Hope.
It's a yearly tradition for the Belleville Parks and Recreation department, one that takes place at 7 p.m. every Dec. 6 at Bellevue Park. Each year, families make their way down to the Angel of...Read more
I was recently divorced from a marriage of 18 years. We have one son, now away at college. With Christmas right around the corner, I'm wondering if it's proper to continue giving birthday gifts and/or Christmas gifts to my ex-mother in-law, ex-brother and sister in-laws, young ex-nieces, and nephews? They were family for so long; it seems ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: I'm a server at an upscale eatery and am constantly amazed at parents who bring their loud, unruly children into the restaurant and let them run wild. We've had kids trip servers, knock over bottles of expensive wine, disturb other customers, start food fights, and worse. As a parent myself, I would never let my kids get away with ...Read more
Q: We moved into a new (larger) house this year. So for the first time at Christmas, the entire extended family will be under one roof: ours. What can we do to manage the stress of hosting?
Jim: This should be the most joyous time of the year -- but often it's the most stressful. I think a big reason is the amount of expectation we pour into ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My son is a senior, and he is slowly throwing away all of his options for college. He has excellent SAT scores, but his grades are erratic. He isn't going to class and is missing a lot of assignments. When confronted, he is remorseful but still can't get his act together. He's sabotaging himself, and I'm heartbroken watching...Read more
Books about upcoming holidays provide anticipatory excitement and activities for children. These new releases will help kids weather December school days and look forward to holiday celebrations.
"Santa, Please Bring Me a Gnome" by An Swerts; illustrations by Eline van Lindenhuizen; Clavis New York; 28 pages; $17.99.
This homey, whimsical ...Read more
An interesting, and telling, tale: As part of a recent speaking engagement sponsored by a regional medical center in the west, I was scheduled to address a gathering of local pediatricians. Two weeks prior to the address, my contact called to inform me that the medical center’s behavioral health unit had put up such a fuss over my planned talk...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: The high schools in our old neighborhood were well known for drug and alcohol problems. For that reason, a few months ago, my family moved to a new (and very expensive neighborhood) so that my son could attend one of the best schools in our state, one that we hoped wouldn't have those problems. My husband and I place a high value ...Read more
Q: Our kids made their Christmas lists early this year. Reading through them, I'm taken aback at how ... well, self-centered they are. How can we adjust their point of view?
Jim: Most children have a tendency to feel that the world revolves around them. Our culture encourages this problem by telling kids -- and adults, frankly -- to be self-...Read more
Q. My husband and I have been married for 5 years -- together for 7. For years I've heard what a bitch his ex is. Their daughter recently graduated and wanted to spend her first Thanksgiving after college with both her parents, me included. I thought spending the holiday with the ex was a little much, so I suggested we all go out for dinner the ...Read more