Dear Annie: Our 14-year-old daughter is not a terrible kid — probably just a typical teenage girl. She can be rude and obnoxious, she talks back and curses, and she leaves her room an upside-down mess and is obsessed with her iPhone, constantly posting pictures of herself online and chatting with friends.
We have another daughter five years younger. We were concerned she might model her behavior after her older sister, and so we set rules about cursing and using her cellphone. Our 14-year-old could not abide by the new rules, and after much fighting, she decided to move in with her grandparents, who are much more lenient.
She’s been there for several weeks, and by all accounts, she is more responsible and respectful to her grandparents than she ever was with us, and they are happy to have her. Our home is a lot more peaceful now, too. It seems like a win-win-win situation, but it doesn’t feel normal not to have our daughter living with us. And one time, she even said she doesn’t consider us her parents anymore, but she still calls us when she needs something.
Should my wife and I be concerned about this situation?
— Daughter Dilemma
Dear Dilemma: No. Some teenagers are more difficult than others, and the relationship with parents is often harder for them to deal with. What your daughter says is less important than what she does. If her behavior has improved because she no longer feels she has to rebel against you, that is a good thing. We do recommend, however, that you keep interacting with her in a positive way and not only when she calls asking for something.
While she is away, we hope you will examine your parenting methods and determine whether there is anything you could do differently to produce a better result. Both too lenient and too strict are not advisable. Your pediatrician can make recommendations, you can ask for books on parenting at your local library or bookstore, and you can also go online.
Dear Annie: When my birthday, Mother’s Day or Christmas roll around, family members always ask, “What can I get you? You have everything.”
The gift that pleases me most is their time. A phone call or visit would make my day. Mark your calendar to call Dad or Mom or Grandma. They would be so happy. And here’s the return gift:
Seniors — stay busy. Your children and grandchildren are not responsible for your entertainment. There are senior centers, churches and clubs that you can join. Or volunteer. Your children have jobs, families and responsibilities. Don’t criticize them. They will ask for your opinion if they want it.
And to each, remember to say I love you, especially if you haven’t said it for a long time. The first time may be hard, but oh, the wonderful feeling it will leave.
— Happy, Active and Much Loved Senior
Dear Happy: You have given wise advice to all age groups, including the idea to consider the needs of others instead of your own. It certainly explains your signature. Thank you.
Dear Annie: Please tell “Perplexed in Pennsylvania” not to worry that her friend keeps forgetting her birthday. Mine is on September 11th, and my brother, sister, aunt, nieces and nephews do not acknowledge it, probably because they aren’t sure how to celebrate my birthday when it’s also a day of such sadness.
I keep in touch with all of them, and that is what matters.
— Happy in Connecticut
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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