Q. My 12-year-old son is supposed to be doing class work on the computer, but every time I walk in on him, he is playing some kind of game or just surfing around the internet. I can’t watch over him all the time, so what can I do? I don’t want him to fall far behind in his school work.
The consensus of the panel is that as long as the boy’s grades are OK, it doesn’t matter if he spent time playing games on the computer.
“If his grades are good, I wouldn’t do anything,” panelist Erin Stalsitz said, adding, “If they are down, the mother needs to be more involved.”
Q. The other night my 17-year-old daughter sneaked out her window and came back around 5 a.m. When I confronted her, she got really angry, refused to tell me where she went and stormed up to her room. What can I or should I do?
There was some disagreement among the panelists on how to handle this situation, and whether or not to confront the daughter and to what extent.
Q. My wife and I are divorced, and we have shared custody of our children, ages 10 and 7. I am trying to figure out how much I should ask my children about their time spent with their mother. I am concerned that I if I don’t ask them what they did, it looks like I don’t care. On the other hand, I don’t want it to look like I am interrogating them every time they come home from being with her. What do you think?
The panel agreed that not asking the children anything about their visits with their mother might indicate a lack of interest and caring.
Q. With most things closed this summer, I am very concerned about my teenagers having so much free time on their hands. They can’t find jobs, sports are cancelled and most entertainment options are shut down as well. We have returned to work, so no one is home to keep an eye on things. What can we do to keep our kids safe this year?
Q. What age is the best time to talk to my children about the facts of life and sex? I have a boy, 14, and a girl. 9, and they seem to know more than I think they should at their ages.
If the mother thinks her children know more than they should, panelist Chad Stefanyak said, they probably do.
“They are at an age where they have gotten or are getting information about sex from school. It starts in about fourth or fifth grade,” said Stefanyak.
Q. Since my five-year-old son’s preschool has been closed and I have been home with him, I have become concerned about his readiness for kindergarten in the fall. None of his teachers has ever said anything to me about this, but it seems like he doesn’t know a lot of the things my other children had to know before kindergarten. How can I work with him to get him ready for school, or should I consider waiting another year?
Q. I am a mom who is totally losing her mind trying to home-school three kids, cook, clean and work. I feel guilty about having to divide myself so much. How can I spend more time with my kids and give them the attention they need?
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic stay-at-home mandates. the panelists had words of encouragement for the mother.
“First and foremost,” said panelist Chad Stefanyak, “we need to let the mother know that this is everybody right now. She is not the only one feeling this way.”
Q. My three children ages 8, 11 and 13, constantly bicker. What can I do to keep them from fighting?
The problem here, according to panelist Joanne Raftas, is sibling rivalry. “The children are vying for the attention of the parents,” Raftas said.
This rivalry is normal, Erin Stalsiz said. “Siblings fight, and it is a normal part of growing up. You could let them work things out as long as they are not hurting each other. But if it gets out of hand, have parents take turns and limit the interaction amongst the children if they cannot get along,” Stalsitz said.
Q. My son is in elementary school and is really into computers and his iPad. How do I encourage him to pursue this interest as a career, while continuing to be a good parent, and limit his access to the computer?
There is a difference between playing games and using learning modules,” panelist Pam Wallace said.
“If he starts creating things or spends time learning how things work, that is different,” said Wallace.
“No matter what you are doing, screen time changes the brain,” said panelist Mike Daniels.
Q. My daughter, a high school senior, is getting cold feet. She has had her goals all set, been accepted at a good school, but now wants to take a gap year before going to college. I’m not sure how to coach her through it or how hard to push.