I was thrilled when I had a son, after having three daughters. But my son, who is now 11, is not into sports at all. In fact, my daughters are all in soccer and basketball leagues. I’m so disappointed — as I always imagined we would be going to games together, talking shop about teams and that sort of father-and-son-thing. Any advice on how to encourage him to join a sport?
— Signed, Disappointed Dad
Jacqueline says: It’s pretty clear what you want, and what your son wants, are two very different things. And the message you’re sending to your son about your disapproval for his lack of enthusiasm for sports is, most likely, destroying his self-esteem. How about talking to your son about what is important to him, about his dislikes and likes, and forming a father-and-son bond around those mutual interests? Give your sports-achieving daughters the love and support they may be seeking from their father instead.
Kerry says: I hope you can find other reasons why you are satisfied with having a son and not focus on the fact that he’s not into sports, because inevitably, he will sense this, and it may damage his self-esteem. Instead, find other things you both have in common. Allow him to explore what interests him and find ways to encourage him to do that. Then, be willing to get involved in what interests him. Once you let go of any preconceived notion of what a son should be into, such as sports, you’ll be far less disappointed. Embrace other things you might have in common and you will maintain a healthy father-son relationship. Share the commonality of sports with your daughters.
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One of the kids in our school carpool is constantly late; consequently making all the kids late for school. What is the best approach to this problem; speaking to the kid or his mom? — Signed, Late
Kerry says: I would speak to his mother. Let her know that if he continues to be late, he will have to be out of the carpool, as it is not fair that the other kids have to be late for school. If he continues to be late, then follow through.
Jacqueline says: You seem timid about this situation. You have the right to get your kid to school on time. Talk to both the boy and his mother and straighten this nonsense out once and for all.
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My husband and I have three sons, ages 16, 15, and 12. We feel very strongly that our youngest may turn out to be gay. Even his older brothers think so, although no one has said this to him. Our concern is not that he might be gay, but that other boys might abuse him or beat him up for it. (He’s very small in stature.) How can we protect him?
— Signed, Hiding
Kerry says: Have you asked your son whether the kids at school tease him? While it’s good that you are looking out for his welfare, you may be fretting in vain if nothing has happened yet. Instead, continue to love him for who he is. Allow him to explore and embrace himself. The best thing you can do for your son is to develop his self-esteem and encourage self-love. Kids typically don’t pick on confident kids.
Jacqueline says: I would start letting your son know that you love and accept him. Learn by asking your son questions such as: do you like school? Are you being bullied? Let him know it is safe for him to open up to you. Be alert to your son’s moods. Know his friends. Inquire with his teachers. Kids can be brutal, so communication is key.
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I “caught” my 11-year-old daughter with her 11-year-old male friend in her bedroom laughing and giggling — and both of them almost naked! The kids tried to tell me it was because it was so hot, but I think they were doing a little “exploring.” I made the boy go home, and I called his parents, but they didn’t think anything of it! Since when do 11-year-olds fool around? And since when don’t their parents care?
— Signed, Disturbed
Kerry says: I don’t think there’s anything to be alarmed about. They probably were curious and were doing a little harmless exploring. You clearly let them know you were not at all happy about it. I would let it go. Chances are they feel ashamed and won’t do it again.
Jacqueline says: I disagree with Kerry, they are too young to be fooling around. If this continues, what’s next, sex at 12? A baby at 13? My question is for you, Mom: why are you allowing an 11-year-old boy in your daughter’s room?