Question: I found a vaping pen hidden in my 13-year-old son's room and am at a loss as to how to deal with it. He is very susceptible to peer pressure and wants very badly to fit in with the "cool" kids. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Answer: This is one of those occasional questions that no matter how I answer, some...Read more
'Sometimes I have an almost involuntary, intuitive reaction about a character -- a light goes off in my head," said Annette Bening, confessing that she didn't have that response when she first read Mike Mills' script for "20th Century Women."
Here was Dorothea Fields, a single mother who runs a makeshift boardinghouse in Santa Barbara, who sits...Read more
Q: My husband and I have 7, "yours, mine, and ours" children. My husband also has a terrible ex that doesn't understand boundaries and has caused many issues by using his children to try to divide us. It didn't work. Their children are now 12, 17, and 19.
Because of her behavior, I have zero interest in hosting their oldest daughter's high ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: My parents never talked with me and my siblings about money, but I'm feeling the need to give my kids -- ages 4 and 7 -- a better financial education than I got. When's the right time to start?
A: What is it about money that no one wants to talk about it? Drugs, sex, and violence are perfectly acceptable dinnertime fare, but we're...Read more
Q: Every time I turn around, there's another example in the news or on social media about people fighting over issues of race, politics, religion, moral beliefs, etc. I'm beginning to lose hope that there can ever be peace in our land. What are your thoughts?
Jim: It's clear that America is deeply divided, on many fronts. But a lot of that ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: When my children get off the school bus, they have a snack. I like them to begin their homework straight away. There is often a good deal of whining and complaining. But I find that if we leave the homework until after dinner, there is just as much whining, and sometimes they don't finish the work by bedtime. Should homework...Read more
These are some of my picks for the most outstanding picture books of 2016. These are simply cool and have remarkable artwork and quirky, unique stories.
"Grandad's Island" by Benji Davies: Candlewick Press; 32 pages; $16.99.
Benji Davies has lent his talented hand to many a fine picture book. In this beautiful, comforting tale festooned with...Read more
Dear Family Coach: I want to discuss dating with my teenage son. But I am not sure whether he likes boys or girls or both. I don't want to assume, but I'm also not sure how to address this. I want him to know we support whatever he decides. How can we convey this without it getting awkward? -- Loving Hetero Parents
Dear Parents: Years ago, ...Read more
Question: We recently discovered that our 16-year-old son has been smoking marijuana on a regular basis. At first, we intended to begin using an over-the-counter drug test but then learned that teens have figured out how to beat these tests. One of our son’s friends, for example, was regularly tested at home and always tested negative ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: I have three children and have been divorced for several years. My girlfriend of six months and I are thinking about getting married. But I'm concerned about her relationship with my kids. It's not that she doesn't like them -- I'm sure she does. It's just that she always seems shy and reserved around them. I really want us to be a...Read more
Q: My teenage son keeps telling me that I don't "respect" him as I should. I'll admit that we often butt heads, but I honestly don't believe that I've ever done anything to denigrate him as a person. What does it mean for a parent to "respect" a child? I can't just let him have his own way all the time, can I?
Jim: I understand. We have two ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My 14-year-old daughter's friend asked her to accompany her on a date. The friend is dating a boy and isn't allowed to go out with him alone. She wants to invite another boy to attend along with my daughter to have a group date. Should I let my daughter go? -- Hesitant Parents
Dear Hesitant: Group dating is a precursor to ...Read more
Start the new year off happily with these lighthearted books for kids.
"The Happiest Book Ever!" by Bob Shea; Disney/Hyperion; 32 pages; $16.99.
A happy book should have a sunny yellow cover and a striped giraffe holding ice cream cones. Bob Shea's "The Happiest Book Ever!" starts with a frowny frog and a carrot cake that become happier by ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My firstborn son is about to graduate high school and head off to college on a scholarship. We have always been so close, and although I knew this day was coming, I am inconsolably sad. I feel myself pulling away because I can't stand the idea of losing him. Do you have any tips on how to shake this horrible feeling and ...Read more
One of the biggest problems among today’s parents—especially mothers—concerns their tendency to think in psychological terms about their children’s behavior problems. Mothers are more prone to this intellectual wandering than fathers not because of some gender-related characteristic but simply because mothers are the primary consumers of...Read more
Q: I recently picked my daughter up from her father's home after the Christmas Break only to hear her call out the car window as we left, "Bye Mom!" I did my best to cover up my shock, but oh my gosh, I never thought I would have to face this. I do not want my child calling anyone else, "Mom." What's good ex-etiquette?
A: It is rare that a mom ...Read more
Q. My ex and I have a son and have been trying to co-parent for five years. There have been ups and downs -- she was resentful that I did not suggest marriage, but we hardly knew each other and I didn't think that would be the answer. Things have gotten really bad since I got married last year and my wife is now pregnant. The exchanges are ...Read more
Dear Mr. Dad: My mother died when I was a baby and I've lived my whole life (I'm 13) with my dad and we have a very close relationship -- or at least I thought we did. A month or so ago, he told me that he'd finally found the woman of his dreams and that he's getting married again. I want to be happy for him but all I feel is sadness. It feels ...Read more
Q: My elderly mom is still living independently in her own home, but it's clear that she'll soon be unable to handle her finances and other business matters on her own. My siblings and I need to begin preparing for what's to come. Do you have any suggestions?
Jim: You're wise to begin thinking about this while your mother is still able to ...Read more
Dear Family Coach: My wife and I are constantly encouraging our children, who are 7 and 11 years old, to read anything, but especially chapter books. Our latest strategy is to reward them for finishing a series of books. For example, when my son finished the entire "Harry Potter" series he was rewarded with a Nerf gun. Is this the wrong ...Read more
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