The battle over sports practice

Q: It's a screaming match every time I ask my 8 year old son to get ready for wrestling practice. His dad is passionate about wrestling, and wants our boys to wrestle. But getting him to go to practice is driving me crazy. I told him he needs to go to practice to stay active, but he doesn't have to compete in tournaments. That was ok for a few weeks, but now he doesn't even want to do that. I don't know if this is a power struggle, if he truly hates it, if I should give in or be persistent. All I know is I am so tired of fighting him before every practice. Any advice is very welcome.

A: This is a terrific question, and I know many other parents will relate to your dilemma. Thanks for submitting it.

It's only natural, and even a very good sign, that you feel confused about what to do right now. There's still some information that needs to be gathered. Good for you for not jumping to premature conclusions!

Will this movie be too much for my child?

This site can help you make an educated guess about whether a movie might be too disturbing for your kids or not:

They rate movies using "three objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE & PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10. We also explain in detail why a film rates high or low in a specific category, and we include instances of SUBSTANCE USE, a list of DISCUSSION TOPICS that may elicit questions from kids and MESSAGES the film conveys."

this makes so much more sense than G or PG ratings based on age. since some kids are more sensitive and susceptible than others, these ratings let parents make better-informed decisions.

this would have been a real boon to have around when my kids were younger. might have spared me several sleepless nights of post-nightmare comforting.

It, uhhh, might even have been helpful earlier than that. I am still anxious about showering in hotel rooms (thank you Psycho) and afraid to swim in the ocean (Jaws). And don't even get me started on The Birds ...

I need this site for myself!

For more information about Karen's parenting consultations, click here or visit

book review: Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

The good folks over at asked me to submit a review of my favorite children's book. They wanted an audio file, so I wrote up this script and recorded it on their voice input line. Figured I might as well share it with you, too ...

Worried about teenage drinking

Q: My 16 year old son goes out and drinks too much with his friends. He's a good student, star athlete, and a belligerent and nasty drunk. I'm afraid he may be depressed. We have a good relationship, and I have told him my concerns, but he dismisses me, saying, "Everyone gets drunk, Mom. Back off." What can I do?

A: Sounds like you've been very conscientious about expressing your concerns to him, and so far, he's responded with resistance, defensiveness, and counter-attack. I love that you phrased it "my concerns" rather than "his problem." This tells me you are already aware of the importance of using I-messages and taking personal responsibility in your communication -- and probably explains why you still have a good relationship with him. Good for you!

in the eyes of the beholder

I thought this comment in response to my post about children not wanting to spend time with their non-custodial parent warranted an entirely new post. I have edited it for brevity and clarity:

[to the commenter: please accept my apology for the delay. the email notification of your comment must have gotten lost in cyberspace, and I just stumbled upon this in the 'awaiting moderation' file.]

I am the "current squeeze" in this situation. She's right in saying these are two amazing girls. And I couldn't agree more with the father who also posted his comment. Karen, I appreciated your resistence to jumping on the "ain't he awful bandwagon" as I'm sure you know there are always two sides to every story.

Yes ... and more than just two sides to every story! I believe there are as many perspectives as there are perceivers.

Help, My Teenager Insists on Wearing Only Designer Clothes!

Q: My 16 year old daughter wants to wear designer jeans that cost $100. We live on a very tight budget, and can barely afford to buy clothes at Walmart. When I tell her I can't buy the expensive jeans, she gets angry and upset and says that these are the only jeans that fit and make her "look good and not fat." When I asked her if there was anywhere else we could shop that wasn't so expensive, she just yelled, "No, Dad! Just stop talking about it!" She always thinks I am mad, or that I want her to be mad at me, when I don't -- I just want to be able to talk to her. I always get that attitude every single time, even though I talk very calmly and never get mad at her. Please help.

A: Great idea to look for somewhere that she can get clothes that she likes at prices that won't break the budget! That was one terrific option.

season of sharing

This info came to me a little too late for this holiday season, but it's timeless, so it'll wait til next year.

To encourage philanthropy and take the 'season of giving' to the next level, I heard about some folks who gifted the youngsters in their family with two checks -- one made out to the child, and the other, a share-check, made out for $25 with the pay to the order of line left blank.

The intention is that the child makes the check out to a charity or deserving recipient of his or her choice. Isn't that beautiful? Wouldn't it be fun to spend time with a child talking about whatever cause is near and dear to her heart, and helping her find a related charity to donate to? The possibilities are infinite. Gives me goose bumps.

The share-check is a wonderful way to multiply the joy of the holiday season by sharing the pleasure of giving together. The amount doesn't really matter. When times are tough, it's more important than ever to give a child the power and opportunity to contribute. Even $5 can make a difference.

For more information about Karen's parenting consultations, click here or visit