Sounds just like my grandpa, who in the 1950s had a house full of teenagers

Last week, I posted this article written in 1959 on my Facebook page. It struck a nerve with a lot of people. 385 people shared it and 121 people liked it.

What are your thoughts?


– Mama

Developmental Milestones and When It’s Time To Call The Doctor

Dear Brenda,

I have a three and a half year old boy. Since I can remember he bangs his head when he is awake or asleep. He doesn’t feel any pain, or so it seems. He doesn’t get angry when he does it. He is a very sweet child, but he has his way of doing things. He is very, very neat and precise for his age. He started mingling with other children in his class about 6 months ago. Both of my children are in half day in school.

Most of the times it doesn’t seem as if he understands me. If he hurts his sister, sometimes for no reason, and I talk to him firmly he just nods and continues to hurt her.

I’ve tried everything, talking, shouting, naughty corner, but nothing works. He’s going to ‘big’ school in a year and a half and I’m concerned that the teachers won’t understand him.

At the parent meeting his teacher told me that he is very advanced for his age, but he has strange ways, e.g.; when he’s playing with blocks, (and he wants to play alone) he first sorts all the colors together, then all the shapes. If anyone interferes he gets very upset.

If things go his way, he is very sociable.

Do I need to worry?

Dear Worrying Mom,

Watching our babies grow is what parents do. We want to know that their language, thinking, social and emotional skills are where they should be. What if they’re not? What if we notice something about our precious one that’s atypical? Well, what if. As a parent you need to follow through on your concerns. Here are some of the things that caught my attention.

Head banging. Our babies are used to a rocking motion while in the womb and will rock their bodies or bang their heads to soothe themselves. This behavior can occur when they are over or under stimulated, and it usually stops by four years old.

“Most of the times it doesn’t seem as if he understands me.” This caught my attention too. As did this, “If he hurts his sister, sometimes for no reason, and I talk to him firmly he just nods and continues to hurt her.” It makes me wonder if he is able to read the social and non verbal cues, for example, that crying might indicate that his sister is in pain, or if he can tell from Mommy’s face whether she is happy or sad. These are developmental milestones.

It would probably be best to bring the concerns you’ve written about here to the attention of your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will be able to rule out medical reasons for his behavior and then might be able to get to the bottom of some of these concerns. If there are any problems, it is better to start therapies earlier, as they would be more effective.

You’re a great mom. Be well.

– Brenda

Brenda Breaks Down Consequences for Bad Teen Behavior

Hi Brenda!

I’m from India. I’m a single parent (widow) and I have a son who is 12 years old and he is developing a habit of telling lies and stealing money from the home. A couple of times I’ve confronted him but he always blames his younger sister.

Also he doesn’t like to study at all and academically he’s doing extremely poor. He’s becoming very rude and doesn’t care and respect any one; he doesn’t like correction at all. Another thing he keeps his thing untidy and doesn’t like to bathe. He only enjoys playing on the PC or PlayStation. I really don’t understand how I should help him to improve.

I need your help.


Dear Single Parent,

My grandmother would say that your son is acting “mannish.” Meaning that he is testing his boundaries with you, in terms of respect, integrity, academics and hygiene. How far can he go? What are the consequences to his actions? Those are questions that not only you need to answer; they also need to be discussed with him. He can’t continue to steal, bring home poor grades and keep bad hygiene and play on his PC or PlayStation. Here’s the deal:

  • Have a family meeting in which expectations regarding integrity, grades, housework, and respect.
  • There should be an opportunity for the children to self-correct.
  • If they do not self-correct then there should be consequences.
  • If rules are broken, things are taken away. And yes, definitely include the PC and the PlayStation, favorite shoes, posters from the wall, if it means something to him, it can be part of a consequence.

I also wonder if there a man in your life, a brother, an uncle, or cousin that could spend some time with him, one on one. I think he might need that attention right now and that a man that could talk to him about the importance of good hygiene and respect.

That’s all I got for you my love. I hope it helps.

Readers what do you think?

– Brenda

Baby Bonding and Blended Families — First Time Dad

Dear Brenda,

I’ve recently become a first time father with my partner who has three children from a previous marriage. While I am completely in love and in awe of my newborn son and loving being a father for the first time, I am feeling that my role of his father is not one that is being fully considered by my partner and in particular her eldest, a boy of 14 years. On a few occasions he has been commenting on the way I’ve been fathering my son and is telling me how things should be done. He also consistently wants to hold my boy, at the expense of my having time with him or giving him time to rest on his own without being in the arms of someone. While my son is only 5 days old at the moment, I feel like my role of father to my child is being merely dismissed. I have spoken to my partner about this but this seemed to be little avail with her, as expected sticking up for her son and, in my opinion, not dealing with the fact that this is my first child, more like thinking of this as just being another child in our relationship. I have fears that my son won’t be able to establish a bond with me, his natural father and will instead make more of a connection with his half-brother, in turn leaving me in the lurch.

All of these feelings have increased since my child’s birth, where the eldest congratulated his mum on the birth but didn’t say any such thing to me, instead critiquing me on how I was holding my son. Things came to head just the other night when my partner’s youngest made a comment to her older brother when he was holding my son trying to calm him down. She was awaiting her turn to hold my son and at the eldest determination to calm the child down she blurted out, “You’re not Xander’s father, Lloyd should be doing that not you.” This comment just made my feelings all the stronger as I felt that this was something that not only I was bearing witness to.

I am still at a loss as to what to do as all that seems to have been established from my discussion with my partner is that I have been stupid to think such thinks and probably need to change, but this is my first child and truly fear losing out on my role as father. Any advice that you could help me with would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

Dear First Time Dad,

When I brought my baby girl home, I had some of the same feelings. My then husband’s mother and brother were there and for the most part, everyone was holding the baby but me. I didn’t want to cause any familial riffs, so I stayed quiet, but inside I harbored the same concerns and fears. I’d read the books and I knew the importance of bonding! His mother would just look at me and rock and coo at her or the uncle would hold her while he watched football. It seemed they would only bring her to me to be breastfed. The day everyone left to go back Chicago, after waving one of the happiest goodbyes ever, I sat with her in my arms and looked into her eyes and said, “It’s just us now, it’s just us.”

So I understand how you feel about wanting a moment to hold this precious expression of life uninterrupted and without a running commentary on whether or not you’re doing it right. When this happens simply turn to the person who is making the comment and say, “I’m learning and I love this baby as much as you and we both have to find our way” or something to that effect. And let me just add, that all bonding is good. You want the 14 year-old to hold the baby, to feel close. There is no such thing as holding a baby too much. Though I’m sure an Old Wife is scolding me and pulling out her book of “tales” as she reads this. In just a few short years that same young man will be off to college or pursuing some life dream. You all are a family that is still blending and that beautiful baby is churning the waters. Let it be.

The issue I see in this family dynamic is that the family roles seem unclear. The eldest son should be given his respect as eldest son and no more. As you and your partner now stand at the helm of the household, there should be some boundaries drawn together about acceptable language and tone from the children. That is your issue, not whether or not the child will see you as its father. Do you hang out with the eldest? Have you taken the time to bond with him? Does he now know that he doesn’t have to carry the responsibility of playing father? Does he know that you have the role firmly in hand?

All around you, new routines are being established, new roles are being carved out and without the slightest bit of awareness this new baby has become king and is holding court, complete with cooks, nannies, jesters and advisors. I say, no matter what you’re still The Dad.

– Brenda