Q. I have 12-year-old twin sons who use foul language constantly. My husband and I have tried all types of responses from taking things away to ignoring them, but nothing works. What should we try next?
A. Unfortunately, it's not the responses they're blowing off -- it's you. For kids this age, saying bad words is a way to push parents' buttons. So sit the boys down and explain that swearing offends other people, and that it's your job to teach them responsibility to the community. Then, if the cursing goes on, immediately remove the offender from wherever he is and bring him back home to do extra chores or stare at the wall -- anything not fun. Now, you'll have to do this at least 10 times if not 20, but if you keep following through, you'll get results.
Q. My 17-year-old son's friend is just back from rehab, clean and sober, and the two have been hanging out together. I get that my son, John, is a good influence and I know that he would never use drugs. But is this okay?
A. It's wonderful that your son wants to reach out to someone who's turning his life around. But John does need to establish clear emotional boundaries. Be sure he understands that he's not supposed to be his buddy's savior or his only source of personal support. If your son starts to feel overwhelmed, he may need to spend less time with his friend and encourage him to rely on others, too. And John must have the name and number of a person or organization to contact if he suspects his pal is using again. My only other suggestion is for you to think a little bigger. This is an opportunity to show empathy as a family, so I'd invite the friend over for dinner or another event in your home. It's this kind of welcome that helps recovering addicts feel reconnected to a sober life.
Q. I think my 11-year-old daughter is too young for eye makeup but I'm tired of arguing with her about it. What do you think?
A. This is a rite of passage in your child's life and it's your job to make it meaningful for her, which you can do and still set some limits. Acknowledge that she needs to feel grown up by saying, "I know that you want to use makeup, and I'm going to let you wear lip gloss at 12 and eyeliner at 14 (or whatever ages you decide), but first I want you to learn to take care of your skin." Then buy her some nice, affordable cleanser and moisturizer and teach her to use them. By the way, I've had great success offsetting the makeup craze with my tween students by having them research and experiment with homemade facials (using olive oil, honey, avocados, etc). It's totally messy, crafty, educational -- and distracts them from wanting that horrible blue eye shadow.Rosalind Recommends
Men Can Stop Rape, Inc. (MCSR) is an international organization that empowers young men to prevent violence against women. I wish all communities would bring in MCSR's Men of Strength Club, a 16-week high school program where teens meet to discuss leadership, communication, social responsibility, and conflict resolution.
Originally published in the March 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.