- Questions & Answers
I spoke with you during the course of my job as a customer service
representative, at which time we spoke briefly about children
and my role as a mother of a teenager. I really could use your
advice on helping my sixteen year old son stay motivated as
far as school. He is really motivated when it comes to teenage
girls. Thank you, Mrs. S.
teen years can be the most challenging for both the teen and
the parent; he is trying to be independent but is more dependent
than he thinks he is. You, on the other hand, want to let go
somewhat but that is difficult and threatening. It is difficult
to use logic with a teen, but if you can use it in terms he
might be able to relate to, you may have a chance. He probably
has some interests in addition to girls. You might try to discuss
what the pursuit of his interests and goals entails in order
for any real success or accomplishment to take place. In other
words, no worthwhile girl wants to have a relationship with
a guy who has no real future; who is a drop-out or a vegetable
or a bum. Education is a tool for knowledge of all kinds. Knowledge
is a key to power; power is a key to having more choices; more
choices are a key to greater enjoyment. Without an education,
a person fights an even greater uphill road to attaining a job
and making enough money to be truly independent and autonomous.
A teen needs to understand that part of being independent and
“on his own” requires personal responsibility, and
NOT a reliance on parents.
job of children and teens is to go to school, make a reasonable
effort to get an education, and at least graduate from high
school. That is their job and responsibility to themselves and
to society. After graduation and age eighteen, they can go in
their chosen direction if they are willing to foot the bill.
The real world says they can be held responsible for their own
choices and pay their own way. If they choose further education
so as to ultimately have more choices, if able, parents and
student can create a joint venture to work together to pay for
the cost of that education. I believe a student who wants to
go to college should partially pay his own way and not expect
his parents to foot the bill. If college is not the chosen path,
then a full-time job is the appropriate alternative. Whatever
your son WANTS out of life, the further he goes in getting formally
educated, based on what our society expects, the better his
chances of getting those things.
he chooses to drop out of school, he will be “shooting
himself in the foot”. He is your responsibility until
he is eighteen. If he chooses to drop out or fail, he needs
to then work full-time and pay room and board or some mutually
agreed upon arrangement for being provided for. Try to see his
world through his eyes if you can, and try to understand his
hopes, fears, interests, and goals of any kind. Show him that
you respect him as a person, and that you love him and want
to protect him and his future. Try to work together at least
until he can legally make his own way in the world, apart from
you. I hope this helps in some way. There are no easy or short
answers to these questions. Don’t hesitate to write again,
I read your suggestions, and I found them quite helpful, its
just hard to let go sometimes. I just want my little boy to
grow up to be a productive member of society. I used your “no
worthy woman wants a bum” approach and got his attention!!
So, thank you again for your wonderful advice. I will keep in
touch and wish us well on this new journey called adolescence,
Children - Questions & Answers
need some advice about a situation I have been living with for
over four years, and I find it increasingly difficult to deal
with. It involves my adult daughter. I am suffocating from lack
of privacy, lack of time, and lack of money in my own home.
I live with my husband (who is ill and on medication for depression),
my elderly parent, my daughter, her husband, and their two young
children. My son-in-law works on-and-off but has a drinking
and gambling problem, so money is not always there to help with
the bills. My daughter is finishing up on college and will have
a master’s degree by summer or so. They owe us money and
we mostly support them. I am struggling with all of this but
I want to keep helping them; what do you think about my situation?
cannot believe you haven’t made yourself ill by now; you
must have a strong and stubborn will. I also think you are a
glutton for punishment. The first suggestion I have for you
and your daughter is to give your son-in-law a choice to either
get into a treatment program within a week or move out within
a week. Then I suggest your daughter put her education on hold
and go get a full time job, go to night school part-time, and
get an apartment as soon as possible. I’m sure you can
help out quite a bit with the child-care during working and
schooling hours. You need to focus your efforts on your own
quality of life and health as well as that of your husband’s
and your parent’s. Your daughter, although in an extremely
difficult position in her own life, and that of her family,
needs to be sensitive to her parents’ well-being. You
and your husband should not have been enabling your son-in-law’s
behavior. What message have you been sending him? You have been
telling him that no matter how he treats his wife, his children,
and his in-laws, you have and will continue to support him and
His family. These adults need to stand on there own four feet.
When you choose the behavior in life, you also choose the consequences
for that behavior.
certainly do not know all the details about this situation,
so there may be some mitigating circumstances that require some
modification of what I suggest. Having said that, I maintain
that there needs to be a plan made NOW! Together with yourself,
your husband, and your daughter, formulate a plan based upon
what kind of a commitment your son-in-law is willing to make,
and when. Your daughter needs to take the lead in this, supported
(emotionally and physically) by you and your husband. This stage
of this situation may be one of the most difficult things you
have ever done but it must be done. Saying NO to our children
can be heart-wrenching, but is frequently the best thing we
can do for them. I hope this helps in some way, please keep
me posted. I will pray for you all. D. Pezzato
recently came to speak to our Rotary Club luncheon where you
gave a presentation on your book about adult children. I have
a question I would like to ask on behalf of a friend of mine
who has a twenty-seven year old daughter who is still living
at home. The husband and wife (parents) disagree about what
to do. One parent thinks the daughter should be on her own;
the other parent is not sure, and wouldn’t know how to
get her to go out on her own. The daughter is a college graduate
and can’t find a suitable job. I think the parents give
some financial support as well as letting her live at home for
free. What advice can you give my friend? Thank you. And by
the way, I really did enjoy what you had to say at the luncheon.
A Rotary Club member.
commend you and the Rotary Club for all the things the organization
does to help in their respective communities. The question you
pose points to a very common dilemma faced my many parents in
this country. I will do my best to address the situation, given
the limited amount of detailed information I have to work with.
First, I will assume that the twenty-seven year old adult is
not physically or developmentally challenged in any way; and
that for all intents and purposes is healthy, capable, and normal.
would like to suggest that mom and dad sit down and discuss
what each other’s feelings are regarding this arrangement.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be empty-nesters, having
privacy, not feeling as though you have to “parent”.
By the same token, there is also nothing wrong with helping
your adult child for a period of time if the reasons and the
mutually agreed upon arrangements works for you all. Discuss
YOUR wants, needs, and feelings; then try to come to a consensus
together. After you’ve done this it is time to have a
meeting (serious conversation with your lovely daughter.
out by asking her if she has any short, medium, or long term
plans for her future. If so, what are they, and how do they
affect mom and dad. If she has no plan, you should suggest that
she make a plan and share that plan with you within a week.
Once she has a plan, she needs to discuss her plan with you.
You will want to listen respectfully and attentively to her
plan. Once she has spoken her piece, it is time to speak yours.
Let her known what mom and dad’s desires for mom and dad
were prior to this meeting. If necessary you can let her know
that the two of you need some time to consider her position
before you can respond in a fair manner; set a date to talk
again (a week or less).
you choose to have your daughter live with you for a period
of more than 30 days, I would advice a written agreement that
address issues just as you would with any roommate; issues like
rent, utilities, chores, cooking, guests, late hours, etc. Set
a date for termination of the arrangement as well. If you choose
not to have your daughter live with you, it would be wise to
set a date for her to move out that is fair and reasonable,
say 30 or 60 days. There may be certain kinds of help, assistance,
or support agreed upon as part of this change, that is up to
issue here is one of assuming one’s own role and responsibility
as an ADULT! Parents should not want to enable their adult children
who may not want to face up to their own responsibilities. Paving
or paying your adult child’s way in the adult world is
not really helping them. I hope this has helped in some way.
It sounds as though your friend might benefit from reading my
book. Best of luck to your friends.
attended a talk you gave on your book about “Adult Children”
and enjoyed your presentation very much, but I need help with
understanding how best to deal with my adult son who usually
does not want to hear advice form his dad and me. How do I stay
involved in his life without feeling as though we are always
being resented. You say we should never stop parenting but what
if he seems to resent us when we try to be involved in his life.
We were always so close when he was younger and growing up.
I say that we should never stop parenting, I mean that we should
always try to be part of our adult children’s lives insofar
as they will have us. We need to parent in different ways at
this stage of their lives than we did when we were raising them;
we only got one chance at that, now it’s a different ball
game. Too many parents tried to be their children’s best
friends instead of being their “parents”; now, as
they have entered adulthood is the time to parent less and be-friend
more. The more you treat your adult child the way you would
treat a close friend, the better your chances of having a satisfying
adult relationship-think about that statement.
parents of adults we need to continue to model adult roles,
we need to continue to let them know that we want to “be
there for them”. We did whatever we saw fit to do in helping
prepare them for adulthood; now its time to let them be adults,
regardless of whether it suits us or not. It is important to
keep as close contact as works for both of you. If they don’t
call or have contact with you as you would like, there is no
reason why you can’t phone just to say “Hi, I just
wanted to call to see how you are doing and to tell you I’ve
been thinking about you, and that I love you”. By doing
this you satisfy a need within yourself and you model thoughtful
behavior at the same time. Respect the distance they create
unless it causes you more sadness and anxiety than you can handle.
Then just ask to sit down for a calm, respectful, and loving
conversation about your problem. One of the toughest lessons
we have to learn as parents of adults, is that they may not
turn out to be exactly the kinds of adults we expected or were
know that you bought the book, so I encourage you to read and
re-read all of the chapters that relate directly to your specific
problem. If that does not help, then please write again, and
together we can work on some different and/ or more strategies
that may help you.
- Questions & Answers
question was actually asked by a college senior during a lecture
I gave for a course in “The Theology of Marriage”.
The student asked what I though about “living together”.
I really did not give much of an answer, other than to give
an odd facial _expression and a somewhat indifferent answer.
I believe I said something to the effect of “I don’t
really have a string opinion; it’s pretty much a personal
thing”. Whatever I said, and however I sounded or appeared,
one student criticized me in a subsequent written critique of
student felt that in response to the question, I “smirked
and added a negative tone”, which bothered her because
she and her boyfriend are planning to move-in together in the
near future. She expected more of an explanation of my opinion,
as well as pros and cons of the issue. In the response that
follows I will attempt to provide an explanation of my opinions
for and against a couple living together, as opposed to getting
of all, allow me to apologize for failing to provide an adequate
answer or response to the question stated above. By way of initial
explanation, at the time this occurred in class, I was a little
surprised and perhaps unprepared for the question. I had no
internal thoughts which should have registered as a facial smirk;
nor did I have any negative thoughts which may have elicited
a negative tone of voice. At the time, I honestly had no strong
opinion from a personal perspective. In hind sight, I should
have taken a few moments (pushed my personal “hold button”)
and considered my professional pro/ con assessment of that issue.
That is what I will attempt to do now.
is for many in this situation, a very practical side to living
together. The financial cost savings can be attractive; the
extra time spent together as a couple who don’t have to
commute to each other’s separate residences; having a
private place to spend alone time (not just for sex); the experience
of living with another person who is a member of the opposite
sex, and not just a roommate; and a sense for what it might
be like to be married. These are just a few reasons living together
might be attractive.
the other hand, living together can never be the same as living
married together because you simply are not married. A person’s
psychological mindset is different. Based on social mores, definitions,
and expectations, marriage carries with it both implicit and
explicit commitments that living together may not.
of what one verbalizes, one knows deep down that it is far less
cumbersome to split up with a partner after living together
than after being married.
much of what is best for the couple depends on the individuals
involved; how secure does one feel with, and without the other;
what kind of a commitment does each need or expect; what kind
of a commitment is each person prepared to make. If commitment
is at issue here, perhaps there are fears that motivate the
decision. In the event of a break-up, the potential for emotional
trauma can be just as great with living together as with being
married. If there is a child involved, things can get very complicated
with two single parents; and what about the child’s best
think the bottom line for me is this: If you want to move in
together and play house, then just try to understand that you
may not want your expectations to be too high. If you think
you may want to marry this person, then get pre-marital counseling
of some kind and read what experts have to say. Work at discovering
what a complete commitment a marriage should be. Take another
look at the book on marriage that I provided for your class.
Work at preparing for yourself emotionally and intellectually
for mutual ways to fulfill each others’ expectations for
building a life together. I hope this response is more to your
liking, and provides some food for thought. Thank you.
to submit a question:
free to submit your questions and Dr. Pezzato will respond as
soon as possible. Unless otherwise requested, your question
and Dr. Pezzato's response will be posted on this web site without
using names to protect your privacy. Keep in mind that any response
is just one persons opinion and should not be interpreted as
Ask your question