Q. My 17-year-old son doesn't shower enough. Should I say something to him?
A. Here's a rule to follow when you want to talk to your son about something that makes you and/or him uncomfortable: Have the conversation side by side instead of face to face, maybe while driving in the car or watching TV. Then be direct: "Sam, I love you dearly, but you smell. You need to take showers more often. Every day before school would be ideal, but I'll be satisfied with once every other day." If he blows you off or seems to forget, I'd ask him straight up what's going on because his behavior may mean he's resigned to being rejected by his peers or he doesn't notice other people's reaction to him (i.e., he's depressed or he has social skills deficits). Either way, if the problem continues, I'd get him the appropriate psychological help.
Originally published in the December 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.