Preventing Teenage Rebellion

The other morning at 7 am I was laying in bed floating in that luscious I'm-still-half-dreaming state, remembering with pleasure my son's last words as he drove away to start his new life away from home: "Bye Mom. Been nice living with ya!"

My sleepy ears heard an indistinct female voice call out a few brief words in the distance. Rapidly this was followed by a young male's exasperated voice shattering the quiet of my townhome parking lot with a piercing, "I HATE YOU!" I'm sure the intensity must have awakened any of my neighbors who were still asleep. And then, as soon as the echo dissipated, all was quiet again.

The next morning, I happened to see a boy of about 16 walking through the parking lot wearing a backpack. Right behind him, running a comb through HIS hair, was a woman who appeared to be his mother. And suddenly it all made sense.

Why can't my preschooler just cooperate with me?

Q: My preschool daughter seems to resist cooperating with me so much of the time. I remember you saying some kids are more sensitive to having to go along with someone else's agenda than others. What is my best response to this when I recognize it happening? Do I say more to her about my loving reasons for the agenda of getting out the door on time? Do I try to enlist her to share the agenda ... or what?

A: Yes, some kids truly do seem to need more autonomy than others, and they often have a keenly developed nose for sniffing out agendas and resisting them. In fact, it's not just kids! Plenty of adults hate being told what to do, too.

Sharing Joint Custody of a Teenager: A Reality Check

Q: I've been a divorced father for almost five years. My 16 and 14 year old daughters won't see me or take my calls. I know they would benefit from knowing me better because I could be a positive influence in their lives. I just wish they could see me through their own eyes instead of through their mom's.

A: Joint custody with an angry or bitter ex is tough enough. Add a couple of teenagers to the mix, and the potential for frustration increases exponentially. From the rest of your email, I can see that you are doing SO MANY things well! Kudos to you for communicating so clearly and openly during this truly challenging time.