in the aftermath of Sandy Hook

 When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
 - Fred (Mr.) Rogers
Many parents are deeply concerned about how to communicate with their children about what happened. Here's my two cents:

parenting in brief

before you tell your child not to be upset or cry,
understand your own discomfort with strong emotions
and tears

before you command your child not to touch,
determine how you will help him satisfy his innate curiosity
and honor his intense drive to explore his environment

before you try to teach your child to share,
expand and deepen your own generosity of spirit

another parenting website I highly recommend

tons of articles about parenting issues from pregnancy through the teen years, very well organized.  covers lots of bases!

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

My six year old's teacher says he shows no remorse

Q: Our six-year-old attends Kindergarten at a Waldorf school. Last week the teacher asked for a meeting, stating that our son shows no remorse when told that he has hurt his friend (lately the boys in his class have been sharpening sticks and poking each other with them), and that he gets sneaky about things he is told not to do (isn't that normal?). They want us to have him assessed. 

My teen's new friend is bringing out the worst in her

Q: Last year, my teenage daughter and her friends connected with a new girl who seems to be a terrible influence because she is extremely negative. This girl hates her parents and doesn't have any siblings, so she often encourages the girls to talk hatefully to their parents and ignore their younger siblings.  

My daughter has been experimenting with rude behavior at home, and trying to get out of things like picking up her younger siblings at school, even though that was part of the reason we got her a car and she knows that. She was never like this before. I wish she could see that this girl brings out the worst in her. What should I do?

A: Regardless of what is going on with your daughter's friendships, it's okay for you to hold her to some basic family expectations.

a must-read for parents

this sums it all up so nicely!  be sure to follow the links - there's a gold mine of help and support on this site.

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

helping children with absent fathers

Q: My seven year old granddaughter has talked to her dad on the phone but has not seen him since she was born. She misses him, cries for him, and feels depressed because of not having him. It breaks my heart this guy will never come from out-of-state to see her -- he does not pay support and does not send gifts. I listen to her and try to encourage her but I don't really know how to handle this or what to suggest to my daughter as to how to handle this. 

A: Thanks for sending in this question.  There are so many parents with children in situations like this.  It is terribly upsetting to see your child suffering and know that you are powerless to effect a change in the circumstances.  

protecting your kids from adult predators

My ex-wife and my kids live next to a boy who is 24 years old and my daughter trusts him more than I like. I have met him and he seems harmless. My daughter is only 12 years old but she wants to do everything with this neighbor boy because he takes her and her sister places and buys them whatever they want. 

My daughter used to be close to me but now she makes excuses to not come to hang out with me. Their mom seems to believe it's no big deal because it relieves her of the responsibility of taking my kids places and buying them stuff. 

How do I get my ex and my daughter to realize this boy might have different intentions in mind than just being a nice guy?

I am so glad to hear that this situation is tripping off some alarms for you. A 24 year old is not a boy ... he's a man. And although he may seem, or even be, harmless, the nature of the relationship he is conducting with your daughters does not feel appropriate to me.