Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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My daughter is boy crazy and growing up too fast. How can I help her slow down?

February 14, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Cartoon characters stand in a meadow with hearts around them.

Question: My 12-year-old daughter is boy crazy. She and her friends spend hours talking about celebrity crushes and the boys in their school. I’m worried she’s growing up too fast—this seems like something teenagers do! What can I do to help her slow down?

Answer: With increased exposure to sexuality in the media, it is nearly impossible for children to remain uninfluenced by sexual and romantic culture. Even though your daughter is only 12 years old (a tween), she is one year away from officially being a teenager and therefore is influenced by teenage likes and dislikes.

Crushes are healthy and normal at her age. The fantasy of a celebrity crush is still relatively innocent— your daughter is unlikely to start dating a member of One Direction (or the latest boy band when you read this article). She is exploring her feelings for the opposite gender in a healthy way.

Once she targets those feelings toward boys in her school, it is time to talk to her about dating and what your family feels is appropriate for her age based on your morals and ethics.

At YOU Parent, we suggest that you encourage your daughter to analyze her friendships and romantic relationships. Help her seek positivity and trustworthiness in both her friendships and dating partners. By engaging in open conversations with her about these relationships, you establish trust with her and can encourage her to use good judgment that aligns with your family values when it is time to date.

We discuss teen dating and building healthy relationships in greater detail in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher three-book series. Please refer to pages 42, 64, and 65 in Through High School and Beyond for more information.


My son won’t share anything with me. How can I get him to speak to me?

February 7, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A son puts his hand up to stop his mother from speaking to him.

Question: My 10-year-old son won't tell me about his day or talk to me about anything. How can I get him to speak to me?

Answer: Sometimes children don’t want to share with their parents, whether they’re teenagers, toddlers, or in between. There are many reasons, from shyness to privacy wishes. Whatever the cause, it’s still important to speak with your son daily about his life, even if it’s just a few sentences at dinner.

Here are some quick ways you can sneak in a conversation with him.

  • Tell him about your day. Often times sharing about you will prompt him to talk about himself.
  • Watch TV. Sit with him and watch one of his television shows and ask questions about the plot or characters. He might share his thoughts on the show as well. A word of warning: you might want to wait until a commercial so you don’t interrupt and aggravate him.
  • Visit someplace new. Take your son to dinner at a new restaurant and ask about his food. If his initial response is one word, ask more detailed questions. Why did he choose a cheeseburger instead of pizza? What’s his favorite cheese?

While he talks, listen to his tone. Is it normal for him? If so, then he might just be going through a phase where he doesn’t share much with his parent(s). If he sounds upset or angry when answering normal questions, or avoids answering them, he might be dealing with a problem. Find a quiet, safe place to speak with him about it. Tell him you noticed he hasn’t been himself lately and you want to help him. If he’s not receptive, you may want to speak with his teacher or school counselor to see if they have any insight into what could be wrong.

For more information on speaking with your child of any age, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher three-book set. For information on speaking to younger children, see pages 46 and 60 in Through The Early Years. See pages 43 and 77 in Through Elementary and Middle School for newer ways to interact with your child. If you are worried that your child is suffering from depression or struggling with peers, see page 64 in the same book and reach out to a school counselor for additional help.


How can I teach my children the value of money?

January 31, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Children with piggy banks

Question: My kids think money grows on trees. They think they're entitled to the latest toys and video games as soon as they come out, but I want them to work for nice things and earn them. How do I teach them to appreciate the value of money?

Answer: As a parent, it’s normal to want to give our children everything we can, especially those of us who grew up not having a lot things. We feel we need to compensate, but we have to be aware to not fall into that trap. Create a balance between what you give them and when you give it to them.

One of the first things that your children should learn is the importance of money. They need to understand the difficulties of earning it. Try giving them a certain amount of money for every age-appropriate chore they accomplish. Let them learn that they will only get money if they work hard for it.

Depending on their ages, you can apply the following strategy: suggest that your kids save up to pay half the cost of what they want and you’ll pay for the other half. If they want the item, they should be willing to earn it. Kids need to learn that if they really want something, they should wait and save in order to buy it. This strategy will also get them into the habit of thinking before spending.

Teaching your children how to save and manage money wisely will help them face future financial hurdles. You can even start teaching your children to save when they are toddlers. They probably receive birthday cards with money or checks from relatives during special occasions. Open a savings account for them and let them watch it grow. Have your children set a long-term goal for something more expensive than the toys, candy, or clothes they might have been saving for.

While you are working on helping them understand the value of money, you can use this opportunity to talk to them about the importance of donating to charities. Later in life, they will be in the habit of donating to those in need, which will help them value what they have. What kids learn about giving during childhood will last a lifetime.

Parents are the main influence on their children’s financial behaviors, so it’s our responsibility to raise a generation of conscious buyers, savers, and benefactors.

You can learn more about the issues addressed in this question in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series. For information about teaching your child financial responsibilities, see the Through High School and Beyond book on page 40.


How can I help my son learn my home country’s culture while he grows up in the States?

January 24, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Question: How do I share my home country culture with my seven-year old son while encouraging him to learn and embrace American culture?

Answer: It’s difficult to maintain your culture and identity as an immigrant in the United States. Your family will be influenced by this new culture, but don’t fret. The clue to raising bicultural children relies on instilling a sense of pride in their heritage while letting them experience the new culture openly, without making them feel as if they are betraying your own traditions.

Here are some ideas you can try in order to create a bicultural environment that will help your son thrive in both traditions.

  • Teach the language. Language is one of the main ways you can understand a culture. Besides, bilingual children will have more academic and professional opportunities in the future. At home, speak in both languages.
  • Keep traditions alive. Celebrate your home country’s holidays and make your son part of the celebrations by explaining their meaning to him. Cook traditional foods both during the holidays and throughout the year. If possible, spice up celebrations with music and dance from your home country. Your son will associate his culture with fun times and novelty.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends. If most of your family still lives in your home country, connect through email, Facebook, or Skype. Make a habit of talking to them frequently and include your son in these conversations. Encourage him to ask questions to his relatives about what they eat, their daily routine, their work, etc. This will not only tighten family ties but will help him realize how life is in his other culture.
  • Embrace American life without too much judgment. Let your child live his other culture freely. Don’t judge him for wanting to be part of American celebrations or by conducting himself in a more “American” way. In the meantime, you can make an effort to learn more about your adoptive country, its culture, its language, and the reasons behind all of its traditions.

By doing these things with your son, you will quickly realize that all cultures are valuable and that adding one more to your family will only enrich your life, not subtract from your original beliefs.

For more information about bicultural education, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, specifically page 18 in Through Elementary and Middle School.


How can I help my daughter cope with marital arguments?

January 17, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A daughter listens to her parents argue.

Question: Sometimes my husband and I have arguments and my 5-year-old daughter gets very upset. How can I help her cope?

Answer: Arguments and disagreements happen. Between differing opinions or general irritations and annoyances, these heated conversations can happen in front of your child. But they don’t have to be a destructive force in your family.

Use this opportunity to reevaluate how you and your husband argue. Try to work together to achieve the following goals to model positive conflict resolution for your daughter.

  • Stay calm. Avoid arguing from a place of anger and frustration. Set ground rules before the argument, such as limiting the discussion to one topic and taking a time-out if things start getting too heated.
  • Listen. Validate each other’s opinions and feelings by listening to what the other has to say.
  • During the argument, be responsive to your daughter. While you and your spouse are focused on the argument, how is your daughter reacting? Did she run away? Is she hiding or crying? Sometimes it’s best to postpone the argument to check in on her, especially if that argument is getting heated.

Even with the best of intentions, it’s not always possible to control ourselves as we would like to when we get worked up and emotional. After an argument that your daughter witnessed, it’s important to follow up with her.

  • Let her see the resolution. Whether it resulted in an apology, a compromise, or an agreement to disagree, let your daughter see that arguments end and people can move forward happily after them.
  • Assess her feelings. Don’t assume that just because your argument is over, her negative feelings have passed. Talk to her about what she heard, what she felt, and what it all means. Apologize and be willing to admit if you took things too far or said something you didn’t mean. Talk about how you both want to handle things in the future.
  • Explain that you and your husband still love each other. Tell your daughter that even though you and your husband may argue, you still love each other and you both love your daughter. Demonstrate this love by setting aside time to spend together as a family doing a fun, bonding activity. Familiar activities can help reassure young children.

Arguing can be restorative. It can help clear the air and get on the same page with someone else. It can help couples move forward stronger than they were before, but only if it’s engaged consciously. Be aware of what your arguing is teaching your daughter. You’ll reap the benefits when she is a teenager and you have to work through conflicts directly with her.

For more information on modeling positive behavior, see the first book of the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, Through the Early Years, page 38.

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