Dear Ann Cannon • I don’t know if my marriage will survive the children’s teenage years. My husband and I do not agree on parenting strategies. Will we survive?
— Adrift in a Sea of Teens
Dear Adrift • The answer is yes — that is, if you both want the marriage to survive in spite of your differences. Use your voice and ask your husband where he stands on this issue. Does he want an intact marriage, in spite of the pressures your teenagers are bringing to bear on your relationship? Then problem-solve together. What activities do you and your husband enjoy doing together? Make time for those activities on a regular basis so that you’ll strengthen your bond, as well as your shared identity as a couple. And while you’re at it, figure out how to talk to one another about your differences in a constructive way. (Hint: Demeaning your spouse rarely yields positive results.) Can you see his point of view? Can he see yours? Are you both willing to compromise when possible so you can present a somewhat united front when it comes to the kids?
And speaking of those kids …
Here’s the deal. The business of adolescence is to separate and sometimes that separation can be p.r.e.t.t.y bumpy. I remember a friend of mine saying her pre-teen son went to bed one night as his normally happy, chatty self and woke up the next morning, transformed into a surly, mulish teenager whose vocabulary (around her, at least) was limited to the word “whatever.” But here’s the other deal: He grew out of it, and your kids will, too, so hang in there.
Dear Ann Cannon • How can we have a family picture when two of the siblings don’t speak to one another?
— This Father Wants a Photo
Dear Father • Yikes! I guess you could always Photoshop your picture. That’s what my mom did when one of her grandsons was living abroad. The only problem was that his head ended up being bigger than everybody else’s head. But before you resort to Photoshopping, I would talk to your kids first. Tell them you understand that they have issues, but ask if they’d be willing to put those aside long enough to pose for a family picture. My guess (unfortunately) is that they’ll probably decline your invitation, but it’s certainly worth a try. Who knows? Posing for a picture may be a catalyst for positive change.
Meanwhile, I’m sorry. This kind of situation is awkward for family and painful for parents.
Dear Ann Cannon • What should I do when my adult kids ask for money?
— Pocketbook Polly
Dear Pocketbook Polly • You can give them money. Or not. But before making your decision, consider the following questions.
- Why are your children asking? Is the need real? Do you feel good about their plans for using your money?
- How much are they asking for? The amount your kids ask for will obviously affect your decision. In the long run, you won’t be doing them or yourself a favor by jeopardizing your own financial security.
- How often do they ask? Does a particular child ask for money frequently? If so, then maybe it’s time to assess why this keeps happening — for your son’s or daughter’s sake, as well as for your own. Helping is fine. Enabling, not so much.
In the end, do what you think is best for all of you, and don’t be afraid to say “no” if you need to. I hope this helps!