DEAR ANNIE: I am 26 and a single parent to a 3-year-old girl. I love my daughter more than anything in this world. However, in the past few months, she has become a brat and a monster, doing everything she can to test me.
Due to recent financial problems, we had to move in with my mother until I can finish my degree and get a job. No matter what discipline I use, nothing works because my mother undermines me. There is no consistency in what is right or wrong. My mother always gives in to her every request.
Once in a while, I will spank my daughter, but only on very rare occasions. I would never hurt her. My mother, however, cornered me and gave me a lecture on how awful I am for spanking my child. Yet I can clearly recall being spanked by my mother numerous times when I was little.
Mom often questions my parenting in front of my daughter and then treats me like an 8-year-old. I am enormously grateful that she opened her home to us, but I can’t be an effective parent when she constantly undercuts my authority. How can I get her to keep her child-rearing opinions to herself and allow me to make the parenting decisions for my child? — Texas
While we agree with your mother that discipline does not require spanking your daughter, we also understand how difficult it is to raise a child when an indulgent grandparent rules the roost. First, have a sit-down discussion with Mom when your daughter is asleep. Get her to acknowledge that a lack of discipline is not healthy for her grandchild. And you can compromise by agreeing to use different forms of discipline other than spanking. Create rules you can both abide by. If that doesn’t work, bring Mom to your next pediatrician appointment, and ask the doctor to speak to her. And please, find other living arrangements as soon as possible.
DEAR ANNIE: I am a typical 20-year-old college guy. About five years ago, on the way back from a family vacation, my brother got carsick. Since then, he constantly complains about stomachaches, gets nervous about everything and never travels. He’s been to various doctors, but all of them say nothing is wrong.
He doesn’t have friends anymore. He works once a week and says he’s “too sick” for a second job. He sits in his room playing computer games all day. I want to motivate him, but whenever I try, he turns the argument against me. I see how much it upsets my parents. They are trying everything they can, and honestly, none of us knows what to do anymore. — Concerned Brother
Your brother has anxiety issues that have not been addressed, so they have become worse over time. In addition, he may now be suffering from depression. This is not to say he isn’t also using his anxiety as an excuse to avoid responsibility, but it nonetheless can be crippling to deal with. Your parents should get a referral to a psychiatrist and then insist that your brother make an appointment and be evaluated. There is medication for anxiety disorders, and the sooner he can be helped, the better.
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