Parenting Advice by Rosalind Wiseman

What 6th Grade Metalheads Can Teach Your Kids

Written on June 6, 2013 at 8:15 am , by


Courtesy of


A few days ago, a friend sent me a link that truly surprised me. It was an interview with Unlocking the Truth, a heavy metal band made up of three 6th grade boys from Brooklyn, New York, that regularly perform in Times Square. That’s right, they haul their instruments to Manhattan and rock their sixth-grade selves out in front of total strangers in one of the most public places on earth.

These kids define cool, as in ahead of the curve and setting the style that others are going to copy. But what I really love about these boys is what great role models they are for other children. Here are the “read between the lines” life lessons that I found in the article on them.

1.     Follow your passions no matter what. In this case, Malcolm, Jared, and Alec are three New York City African-American boys who like heavy metal—usually the domain of white guys from Middle America. They’re showing all of us to follow our hearts—regardless of who we are or what we are supposed to be.

Courtesy of

2.     Be yourself, be proud and stand by your friends. They know they’re being judged on everything from wearing nail polish to playing heavy metal, but they have each other’s backs. When you’re in sixth grade everyone needs back-up like that. Actually we all need a friend like that no matter how old we are.

3.     Put yourself out there. Can you imagine how much courage it takes to play in Times Square? “The Crossroads of the World”? These boys expose themselves to judgment and possible ridicule. But they don’t let it stop them from expressing their creativity. Whether or not you like their music, you have to respect that. This is exactly the kind of risk I always encourage my students and my sons to take.

4.     You have to pay to play.  They work hard to earn money but when they get hungry this is what they report: “We gotta pay for our own food and drinks and hot chocolate because in Times Square it’s kind of cold.” You may not think this is a big deal but think about it from a sixth-grade perspective. You might not like having to spend your hard earned money on hot chocolate but you’re realizing how hard you have to work to pay for that three-dollar drink. And you’re also learning not to depend on or expect your parents to buy everything.

Plus, not to be superficial but if you’re a boot lover, check out the boots two of them are wearing. So what do you think of these rockers? Post a comment and tell me.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the best-selling Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to Do you have a parenting question?

7 Words You Shouldn’t Say to Your Kid

Written on May 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm , by

There aren’t many times when I feel like “Never do X” is the right thing to say to your child. But last week I came across one. I posted on my Facebook page: “Never tell your son or daughter: ‘They’re bothering/teasing/hitting you because they like you.’” I don’t approve of that explanation because it makes it seem as if the adult condones this as an acceptable way to show affection and attraction. And obviously it’s not.

But after that post, I realized I was guilty of doing something I’m always reminding teens not to do: criticizing without making suggestions for how to make things better. So I’m going to use some of the online responses I got from readers to frame the way I think about this very common problem.

One reader wrote about emotional intelligence.
What do we say?! I always struggle with this! I try to say something like, “Sometimes people don’t know how to talk to people and are feeling lonely.” I need words!

This mother is trying to teach her child empathy—a worthy goal. While that’s fine as part of what a parent should say, it shouldn’t be the only thing. This doesn’t assure your child that they have the right to not like how the other kid is treating them. Also, it’s critical to stop yourself from making any assumptions about what’s going on and ask your child for details. Say something like:

“Thanks for telling me and I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this. Can you share a little more specifically what the child is doing so I can get a better idea of what’s going on?”

For younger kids you’ll probably want to add this:

“If the kid is doing something inappropriate or embarrassing and it’s hard to tell me, do the best you can. You won’t get in trouble for saying bad words right now because you’re telling me what’s happening to you.”

Another reader wrote about self-expression.
Some little girls were bothering my son (they are fifth-graders) and they don’t seem to have the maturity or social skills that make them understand it’s not okay. He did complain, though, and it stopped. I just wish an adult could help to come up with alternative ways to show someone they like them.

This is an example of how hard it can be to “teach” these skills to kids. The teacher is much more likely to see these dynamics but will understandably feel uncomfortable telling kids how to behave when they have a crush on someone. But the parent, who may feel more comfortable talking to their child, wouldn’t usually see this going on. It’d be easy to not realize they should talk to their child specifically about how you show someone you like them—unless it gets intense enough that someone complains to the school, like the boy above. These issues usually come up the most between third and fifth grade.

As a parent, have a two-minute conversation with your child that goes something like this:

“Sometimes in your grade people get crushes on other people. When a person gets a crush, they can be nervous around the person they like. But sometimes, and this can seem weird, they can show their feelings by bothering the person and even teasing or hitting them. Just because someone likes you doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to treat you like that. So if that ever happens to you or anyone else, I want you to remember that. And you can tell me and we can figure out what’s the best thing to do.”

A final reader wrote about ongoing problems.
My 12-year-old beautiful daughter has had a problem for many years of boys teasing her or “bothering” her to get her attention. So, what do you recommend we say or do instead?

As kids get into middle school, there really is a possibility of inappropriate sexual behavior and harassment, but it will be seen as liking the person. Again, it’s absolutely critical to ask your child the details so you and your child can distinguish what kind of behavior is going on and then decide what is the best way to proceed. But if I were the mother of the 12-year-old girl above, I’d say to her:

“I want to talk to you for three minutes about the way boys are treating you. How do you feel about what the boys are doing? If you don’t like it, can you tell them to stop and they do?”

If she is too embarrassed to tell you, tell her you understand why it’d be hard to tell you but you just want her to know that if she doesn’t like it she has the right to not like the attention, and she has the right to tell them to stop and have that request respected.

If she does open up to you, suggest that she say one-on-one (or by text or email, i.e., not in front of other kids) to the boy who is bothering her the most one short sentence that states exactly what she wants stopped. If she says she doesn’t want to be “mean,” this is a great opportunity to teach her that communicating her personal boundaries—in a clear and civil manner—isn’t mean.

What advice do you give your kids when they encounter situations like this? Post a comment and tell me!


Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the best-selling Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to Do you have a parenting question? Email

Dealing With Adults . . . Who Act Like Children

Written on May 9, 2013 at 6:58 pm , by

Age, as they say, is just a number. Yet so many of us still believe that once we register to vote, get married or buy a house, we’re magically teleported beyond the messy social situations of middle school. Not so. Case in point: two women who wrote to me with stories of grown-ups behaving like little kids—or if we’re being truthful, less mature than children.

Mom #1: I offended another mom with a joking comment on Facebook. I apologized twice via FB message, but never received a response and she unfriended me. Now when I see her, she ignores me. I don’t have to be friends with her. We weren’t really to begin with. But I am frustrated she won’t accept my sincere apology. What to do?

Mom #2: I play Bunko with some other mothers who always make plans for their families to hang out together but never invite me. When my kids are in similar situations, I tell them: “You can’t be invited to everything.” But I am really mad at these moms and have no idea what to do.

No matter what, it’s really helpful as a parent to have these moments to remember what it’s like to be excluded and how hard it is to confront people. But the silent treatment? The cold shoulder of the cool clique? What’s next? Arguments over buying the same prom dress?

So let’s get something straight: maturity, no matter how old you are, is about self-reflection. It’s about knowing how you contributed to a problem and being able to speak out when you don’t like something—all while treating yourself and others with dignity. And, as in the cases above, it’s natural to have the feelings these women are having.

What’s not OK (i.e. you’re now acting like you’re 12) is to allow those feelings to control your reactions. So here’s what I advise Mom #1 to do. Apologizing after she realized her mistake was exactly on point. But after the first apology on Facebook, she should have gone up to the woman in person and apologized again. So now, if she wants, she can apologize one more time in person to this woman. If the other mom really is an adult Queen Bee, she will pretend that she doesn’t even know what Mom #1 is talking about or offer a fake smile, tell her don’t worry about it, and not mean a word of it. If she’s not an adult Queen Been, then she’ll genuinely thank her and both of them can move on.

But if Mom #1 does offer an in-person apology, no matter what, she knows she did her best and it’ll be easier for her to put this behind her. That’s because managing social conflicts online almost always makes the situation worse and at the least isn’t as satisfying.

Mom #2 has two options. She can decide she wants to talk to the women about it, but then she has to be prepared for the outcome she really may not want: they now invite her to their social activities. She has to ask herself if she even wants to hang out with these people. If she doesn’t then her options are to focus on playing Bunko or leave the group entirely. And this, by far, is one of the great benefits of being an adult. It’s not like when you’re in 7th grade and you have to go to school with these kids all day. You can pick up your stuff, turn on your heels and just leave.

What do you think about how these women should handle the middle-school situations they’ve become a part of? Post a comment and tell me.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the best-selling Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to Do you have a parenting question? E-mail

Why I’m Sending My Sons To Cotillion

Written on April 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm , by

My husband and I have relentlessly taught our children to hold doors for people. We’ve told them they need to ask to be excused from the dinner table and they’re aware they should write “Thank You” notes for gifts. Trouble is, my boys haven’t exactly internalized those lessons. Over the years, I’ve seen that I needed reinforcements. Enter: Cotillion prep.

And yet I came to an awkward realization when a friend recently asked me why in the world I’d send my sons to cotillion. Aloud, I explained to her that the classes were simply basic manners and dance. In my head, I suddenly became aware that if I’d had a daughter instead of sons I’d never have thought to enroll her in anything close to cotillion.

If I’d had a daughter, I wouldn’t have wanted her learning the gender baggage that goes along with programs like this. As gleeful as I was to get my boys into suits and ties, I’d never have pressured a girl into a dress with white gloves. And I wasn’t alone. In my kids’ classes, many more parents of boys signed up their sons. There was even a last minute campaign to recruit girls.

Why were parents of boys so eager and parents of girls so reluctant? I think it’s because the drawbacks of sending a girl to cotillion are more obvious to all of us. Sending girls to a manners class where boys “choose” them to dance or they learn how to set a table sends the message that they’re expected to grow up to be perfect hostesses. It doesn’t matter that the boys are learning the same domestic skills alongside the girls. If we teach these things to girls, it feels like we’re betraying them.

I completely understand these concerns. But what’s amazing to me is that parents of boys (like me) so rarely think about how these gender expectations impact their sons. There are two reasons why. First, these gender rules don’t seem so bad for boys. A suit doesn’t seem as constraining as a party dress. Second, we’re desperate to civilize them. There’s an everyday reality that our boys can come across as loud, inconsiderate and sloppy. I’ll share what it’s like for me:

1. My sons move fast – and in doing so they can be blind to people around them. They literally have closed the door in the face of an elderly person. In spite of making them stand for fifteen minutes and open doors as a “teachable moment” (after doing this to that older woman), they still need more opportunities to slow down.

2. Last year, we moved to Boulder, Colorado from Washington D.C. Dressing up in Boulder means wearing darker jeans and a new flannel shirt. I’m sorry but my East Coast self just can’t handle that. Different situations demand different attire.

3. I strongly believe that personal style shows how a person wants to present himself to the world. That is entirely different than my son picking up the sweat pants he dropped on the floor last night and putting them back on because he can’t be bothered to open the clothes drawer. Honestly, I’d much rather have a kid who spiked his hair into a huge Mohawk and wore black skinny jeans than one who wears dirty sweatpants with holes in them – my boys’ go-to outfit.

4. Everyone needs practice dealing with horribly awkward social situations. And what’s more excruciatingly awkward than a school dance? By the time my boys walk into their first “Under the Sea”-themed 8th grade dance, they’ll feel a little more experienced and at ease with the whole thing.

But the question of gender baggage is important. I don’t want my children thinking that they should be polite to girls because they’re delicate or that boys fit into a “boy box” and girls fit into a “girl box.” Or that anyone who doesn’t fit or doesn’t want to fit into those boxes is somehow less worthy. So, while my husband and I talk to them about that in countless ways, this process has made me link these conversations and values to these classes. And yes, they’re rolling their eyes, and sighing as they say, “I know mom” but that’s totally fine.

The bottom line is I want them learning basic manners, giving up their seats and opening doors for anyone because they need to look out for and be considerate of other people. But there’s another thing. Last month, at my aunt’s birthday party, my older son asked my mom to dance. As I watched them, you can imagine how I felt. I may have to sign them up again next year.


Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the best-selling Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to Do you have a parenting question? E-mail

Helping Your Child Feel He Belongs

Written on April 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm , by

She came out singing, smiling, holding her head high. Like everyone else around her she was dressed in black, rocking and clapping as she walked. I tentatively reached out to hold my twelve-year-old son, Elijah’s, hand. But I didn’t look at him. The hand holding thing was risky. But I knew it would be way too much to see me cry and I could feel the tears starting. Elijah’s religious experience thus far was one year of Jewish religious school and a few Episcopalian and Catholic services with family. Now we were sitting in Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco listening to my best friend Trina sing in the church choir.

Everyone is welcome. Everyone belongs here, the pastor said. Elijah’s eyes scanned the crowd and I could see what he was taking in as Trina and the rest of the choir backed up the pastor. Twenty-five-year-old gay men stood next to eighty-year-old black women . . . next to transgender men with long flowing hair . . . next to a white couple who looked like they belonged in my new and very white community of Boulder, Colorado.

I couldn’t stop my tears. My friend, Trina, is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at 37, six years ago. Like so many people who have stood next to a loved one who is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, in an instant I was transformed by fear. I did the things you do with someone you love battling cancer. I prayed she’d make it out healthy. We shopped for hats and looked at wigs. We even laughed together after her surgery when she had to lecture her doctor. (He made the mistake of telling her what kind of breasts were best for her after she’d explicitly told him she didn’t need larger boobs than she had already.) But I will never forget the feeling of free falling when the news was bad . . . before it got better.

The choir continued to sing and I was overwhelmed.

I glanced at Elijah, who at 5’11’’ looks like he’s 16. My Elijah, who even at such a young age, has struggled. By the time he was in 5th grade, he hated school and generally believed that teachers and administrators were clueless. After going to a charter school where the teachers ignored him because he wasn’t academically struggling but was being bullied by other kids much smaller than him, we transferred him to a “progressive” private school. There the teachers treated “traditional” boys (loud boys who liked gross things, fart jokes and wrestling with each other) as if there was something pathologically wrong with them. By 5th grade my son had cultivated a troublemaker reputation so he could sit in the principal’s office and explain why her policies and punishments made no sense. Not only had he developed a hatred for school, but he thought most adults were hypocrites.

Last year we moved to Boulder. Elijah is happier now. Happier then he’s ever been. It’s ironic, because Boulder has such a hippy reputation. His middle school doesn’t tolerate disrespectful behavior but it doesn’t demonize boys either. His teachers allow him to write gory stories of zombies in creative writing and share, when appropriate, his extensive knowledge of battles. He is thriving. I have a happy child who respects his elders for the right reasons.

After the service, I asked him what was most surprising about it. Without a moment’s hesitation he answered, They said everyone was welcome here. But at first I didn’t believe it because that’s what people always say. But then I looked around and I could see it was true. That was good.

What I realized in that moment is that Elijah has had so many experiences of not being accepted for who he is by the people who are supposed to. Like so many of the people in that church, he understood how essentially important it is to be accepted and he knew that my friend had brought us all to that place.

There are moments in life of pure gratitude. That morning at Glide was one of them. My friend and my son, there together. In the place they should be.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the best-selling Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to Do you have a parenting question? E-mail

Parenting Q&A: “My Daughter Looks Too Sexy in Facebook Photos!”

Written on October 16, 2012 at 10:58 am , by


Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Q. My sweet 14-year-old looks too sexy in her Facebook photo. How can I get her to take it down?

A. I’m going to assume it’s just slightly too sexy and not a provocative pic where it looks like she’s topless in front of a stripper bar. Start by presenting information to your daughter from a third party, like a movie or book. I’d recommend watching the documentary Miss Representation with her. (You could even host a screening party with other parents and girls so you can discuss it as a group afterward.) You want your daughter to understand the pressures girls face to present themselves in highly sexual ways and what the consequences are for her self-esteem. A few days after the movie, ask her to think about her FB profile picture and putting another in its place. Yes, you can tell her that she must change it or she doesn’t get Facebook, but if you only do that, then you’re missing the larger point: having your daughter develop a sense of how she wants to appear to the world.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on

The Sex Talk and Your Teen: What’s Porn Got To Do With It?

Written on October 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman offers advice on having “the sex talk” with kids for Planned Parenthood’s Let’s Talk Month.

Pornography: It’s the reason kids are uncomfortable talking to their parents about sex.

That’s what immediately came to mind when I read the Planned Parenthood and Family Circle survey finding that while half of all parents are comfortable having the sex talk with their kids, only 18% of teens said they feel very comfortable having the sex talk with their parents.

I thought this because I regularly talk to tweens and teens. I know how common it is for them to have questions about sex, so they type “kissing” into YouTube and a few seconds later they’ve clicked onto a porn site. I know that boys regularly show each other favorite porn sites—like their dads did with Playboys and Penthouses a generation ago.

According to Family Safe Media, the average age at which children are first exposed to pornography is 11—earlier than most parents think they need to talk to their kids about sexual decision making. Ninety percent of kids between 8 and 16 have seen pornography, usually while doing their homework.

Before you think, “Where are the parents?” or “Why don’t those parents have filtering devices on their computers?” realize that both questions are irrelevant. Kids have regular access to devices that allow them to research and share topics they’re curious about. And sex has always been and always will be a topic kids are curious about.

If you’re a parent and don’t know any of this, you’re going to approach the sex conversation from an entirely different context than your child. Imagine: You get over your discomfort and sit down with your child to impart your deeply held values about healthy sexual decisions—without keeping in mind that there’s a good possibility they’ve seen graphic, up-close sexual intercourse and oral sex.

Of course kids don’t want to tell us they’ve seen these images. What are they supposed to say? If they admit what they’ve seen, you’re probably going to respond by asking in a very intense, accusatory tone, “Who showed you those? Where were you? What exactly did you see?” They don’t want to have that conversation with you. Plus, they think if they tell you, you’ll react by taking away their phones or computers.

You can have all the filters on your computer you want, block the TV and take away their phones—it won’t matter. You can’t take away every portal to the Internet in your child’s life.

This is what I say: ”I know that if you want to see those pictures, you’re going to figure out how to do it. I could take away every computer in the house and every phone and it wouldn’t make a difference. Here’s why I don’t want you to watch porn. It brings you into a really complicated world where you’re being exposed to really messed-up images and messages about how men and women interact sexually. It’s also all fake. It’s a performance where women are supposed to look a certain way and always like whatever the guy wants to do and the guy never cares about the woman he’s with. I think you deserve to have more accurate information than what you’d see there. But you do have the right to have information about sex in a way that’s accurate and appropriate for you. If you have questions about sex, I want you to ask me or another adult who we both think is a good person to answer your questions.”

As a mom, it upsets me that I have to raise my children in a world where pornography is readily accessible to them. As a teacher, it upsets me that porn is giving our girls and boys unrealistic and often very unhealthy messages about sexuality that will influence them to some degree. But as upsetting as it is, we have to face what our world is like and respond in an informed way. If we don’t, we can’t be relevant in our children’s lives when they need our guidance the most.

Read more about having “the sex talk” with your teen here.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on

Q&A: “I’m a 12-Year-Old Girl Who Doesn’t Like Her New School”

Written on October 9, 2012 at 10:50 am , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Q. I’m a 12-year-old girl who doesn’t like her new school. People aren’t open to helping me, there are so few kids to make friends with and I’m getting frustrated. Is there a way to make things better?

A. That’s terrible! You’d hope everyone would realize how hard it is for you as a new kid. It’s time to take matters into your own hands. First, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you can make one or two friends by spring break, I’d consider that a win. It’s possible the kids in your class have grown up together and that can be really intimidating, but the work you do as a team will give you opportunities to strengthen bonds. Are there any group projects coming up? Things you’re interested in at school that other kids are into as well? If so, invite a group over to your house to work or hang together. Friendships will develop from there.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on

Important New Book “Bully: An Action Plan”

Written on October 4, 2012 at 10:07 am , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

A year ago AC360’s town hall special Bullying: It Stops Here premiered. Several experts (myself included) and wonderful, brave children participated that day, and we showed clips of Bully, an extraordinary documentary profiling five young people who had been bullied. Working on that special and supporting the movie have been heartfelt projects for me, and I’ve watched with real pride how both have done an outstanding job of bringing attention to this problem.

I remember when I first saw the movie. I was so surprised, saddened and in some ways relieved that Lee Hirsch had captured on film what I unfortunately see too often: desperate kids, well-meaning adults who don’t know what to do, and parents who are torn between frustration—sometimes at their own children for being silent targets—and helpless fury at school administrators who do nothing, at best.

It’s a painful movie with no happy ending. There are no talking heads offering helpful strategies. For these understandable reasons, many people who saw the movie and would have liked to show it to their kids wanted more resources to pick up where the movie leaves off. That need has been answered: The creators of Bully recently published Bully: An Action Plan for Teachers, Parents and Communities to Combat the Bullying Crisis.

The book takes over where the movie ends. Interwoven with the stories of the children in the movie is advice from experts on how to recognize when your child is being bullied and what we can say as parents and educators. Particularly moving to me are the words of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers: “Bully probably has been something of a reality check for many classroom teachers. Some teachers who see the film find themselves wondering if they’ve missed bullying in their classrooms and hallways: Have kids suffered because they didn’t notice? Is this behavior happening in their school? The fact that those questions are being asked and that educators are having ongoing conversations about the answers is another example of how the power of this documentary extends far beyond the individual stories it tells.”

In addition, experts such as Dr. Robyn Silverman, Peter Sharas and Michele Borba (as well as yours truly) offer commonsense ways for parents and educators to reach out to kids who are targets, bystanders and aggressors.

Our efforts are making a difference. Just watch this local news anchor passionately articulate her experience of being bullied by a viewer for being overweight. She’s a great example of how each one of us can transform a painful personal experience into a powerful opportunity for leadership. She and others like her are the kind of adults kids need to see more of.

Read our other posts about “Bully.”

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on

Parenting Q&A: “I Can’t Afford to Give My Kids Everything. Will They Suffer Emotionally?”

Written on October 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm , by


Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Q. How do you keep your family happy? And by “happy,” I mean comfortable without cost. Times are tough now, but I don’t want my kids to suffer emotionally because I can’t afford to give them everything.

A. Although life can be horribly stressful when money is tight, it’s so clear to me from my work around the country that having a lot of cash is no guarantee of a child’s contentment or a family’s harmony. So I’d like you to consider redefining happiness as striving for these four things in life: curiosity, hope of success in something you feel good about, being a part of something beyond yourself, and feeling connected to your loved ones and your community. I’ve found that’s where true joy lies for adults and kids. And if your children still complain about not getting the latest iPhone, have an honest conversation with them that includes a look at the family budget. When you do this calmly, your kids are more likely to accept (and appreciate) why their entire Christmas list isn’t going to end up under the tree next month.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on

Parenting Q&A: My Son’s Having Difficulty With Our Move

Written on September 17, 2012 at 11:10 am , by


Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Question: After losing our jobs, my husband and I decided to move to live with family until we got back on our feet. Our 10-year-old son is having a difficult time with the relocation: unable to make friends, arguing with us and even hitting himself. How can we help him?

Answer: Moving is always hard. Now imagine you’re 10 and your family is going through tremendous financial stress. Friendships can be key to feeling stable, but since he hasn’t been able to establish them there’s an added strain. I know money is tight, but don’t let that stop you from getting your son help because hitting himself is a sign that he’s in serious trouble. Find out if there’s a school counselor he can speak to. Or ask his pediatrician for a referral. Also, don’t dismiss his feelings with parental clichés like “If you just put out some effort, you’d make friends, no problem.” His emotions are understandable, and what he needs most is your support.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on

Q&A: “My Dad’s New Family is Mean to Me”

Written on September 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

Question: I’m 13 years old and my parents are separated. I spend some weekends at my dad’s house and his new family is mean to me. My dad and his fiancée criticize me for being lazy and overweight. They often say they’re joking, but I’m in tears when I get home to my mom. How do I make them stop?

Answer: Unfortunately, I get many letters from kids in your situation and it comes down to one solution: You have to be more mature than your parent. If you want to tell your dad how you feel, bring someone with you whom your dad respects, like an uncle or grandmother. If you have to do it alone, be prepared to have your mom pick you up around the corner from his house in case the conversation doesn’t go well. When you tell him how you feel, don’t bring up everything he’s ever done. Describe patterns of behavior, like he insults your appearance and abilities, or his fiancée does and he backs her up. If he gets defensive or laughs, say, “I’d like to have a good relationship with  you. I have a right to my feelings, even if you disagree with them. How you’re reacting makes me not want to be here. So I’m going to leave and when you want to talk to me about it, let me know.” Then ask your ally to take you home. Remember, your goal is to live in an emotionally safe home. If your dad can’t give that to you right now, stay at your mom’s.

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Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on