Darcie Maranich

Darcie Maranich


My daughter wants her own cell phone. She’s in sixth grade. My husband and I have decided our kids aren’t getting phones until high school. Most of my daughter’s friends have phones and so she feels left out. I’m not budging from my position. Can I make her feel better about the situation?

First of all, kudos to you for not caving to the whims of your daughter. I have such respect for parents who have a higher regard for the act of parenting than for comradery with their children. Secondly—now is a good time to brace yourself for some bad news—you may not be able to make your daughter feel better about the hard and fast rule you and your husband have (wisely, might I add) established. Think of it this way: you and I have to fork over some of our hard-earned income to the IRS each month. It’s a hard and fast rule in life and I truly can’t think of anything that’s going to make me feel better about it. Do I still have to abide by it? Most definitely. It’s the same for your daughter. As she gets older, she’s going to be faced with more hard and fast rules that she isn’t going to like. By establishing this one for her now—and, more importantly, by sticking to it in the face of conflict—you are teaching her a valuable life lesson. The Rolling Stones said it best in their 1969 hit, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” It may not be any consolation now because I know it’s hard to watch one’s child struggle, but in all honesty, you are doing the right thing here. Keep up the good work!

My sister-in-law is constantly undermining my authority with my kids. If I say one cookie is enough, she slips them a second. If I scold them for something, she chimes in with a sympathetic comment. It’s driving me crazy. Our kids are the same age and go to the same school so we see each other a lot. How can I make her stop?

Truly, I think we all have someone like this in our lives. I do, at least. For the longest time, I tried to keep the peace by shrugging off the offensive behavior in my life. And when that didn’t work, I would respond gently, trying to make a joke of the situation. There came a day, though, when I had enough. With encouragement from my husband ringing in my head, I took charge of the situation by addressing it the instant it happened, with my children present. We were at a family barbecue and the offending family member told my son he could borrow a bike for a quick ride with his cousin. I had a problem with it because my son didn’t have a helmet. The family member tried to belittle my concerns and override my decision. I addressed the family member with a stern voice and said something like, “The answer is no. I don’t want him riding without a helmet. Period.” Stunned silence followed and it was uncomfortable for a minute, but only for a minute. Since then, I’ve taken the same approach every time and it—surprisingly—has worked. We hardly ever face that same issue now.

I think you need to take a similar approach with your sister-in-law. You might be surprised what difference a little bit of assertiveness can make. Good luck!

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