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If you are having difficulties getting along with the 'rents, you're not alone. Check out these questions from kids like you and read how our Mentors and experts recommend dealing with each situation.

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Advice Questions about Parents:

  • GOMy mom doesn't let me watch ANY movies past a PG rating! Once I was at a sleepover and I was watching a PG-13 movie and my mom called to see if I was okay. I told her what movie me and my friend were watching, she Web-searched it, then called my friend's mom to say that we couldn't watch that movie anymore! Me and my friend were SO disappointed! Also, my friends at school talk about seeing R rated movies and I have NO idea that the movies that they talk about even existed.

  • GOMy life is a stress ball. Mostly because of my mother. She is always yelling at me and stressing me out! I don't know what to do. She makes my life terrible!!! She blames EVERYTHING on me and puts all the stress right on my shoulders. I really need help! She is making me get bad grades. Worst of all, she doesn't realize it!

  • GOMy mom and dad won't let me get a e-mail address! Mom said I'm too little. But all of my friends have one! Help!

  • GOI really love my dad, but he tends to be really conservative when it comes to sexual orientation. He acts like it's a bad thing to be gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgendered, and I don't agree…The worst part is, I don't know who I can talk to because my church is against homosexuality, and my friends who support gay rights would get the wrong idea about him because other than all that stuff I said, he really is an awesome dad. PLEASE HELP!

  • GOMy parents are being very unreasonable with the TV. My mom just learned in a seminar that TV and things of that sort are poison for kids. Now, she won't let me watch TV alone. I am also not allowed to watch anything over a PG rating. This is very hard when you are going into eighth grade! Whenever I approach her, she says, 'We survived without TV when I was your age, so should you!' Help!

  • GOMy mom disapproves of the music I listen to. I don't know why, but she apparently hates indie rock and alternative music. She won't ever let me go to concerts, even if they're with my sisters (aged 22 and 24). I know I'm still pretty young, but I feel I should be able to choose the kind of music I listen to. Help!

  • GOMy parents had a huge fight and now my mom isn't talking to my dad, and using me to send messages to my dad. I always feel like I am caught in the middle of my parents' fight! What should I do? This is like chess for me!

  • GOMy mom is always getting at me that I need to watch myself and not eat too much. She makes me watch a bunch of obese shows and she always points at overweight people outside and says a little too loudly, "That's how you'll be like if you eat too much!" I know my mom is just trying to keep me healthy but it's just so ridiculously annoying! I want to tell her to stop. But how?

  • GOWhy do my parents and I always fight? I love them so much and appreciate all they do, but I have a very short temper and we ALWAYS argue every day. I can't even remember a day where we didn't have an argument. It's so annoying because I always feel bad afterwards. Any tips on stopping the fighting? They never seem to understand my side so I never know how to say things without angering them. PLEASE HELP!

  • GOMy mom is ALWAYS on her phone. She barely ever spends time with me. I will tell her something and she'll just say, ‘Yeah,’ and then I will ask her what I just said and she can't tell me. It's over half the time in her life that she is either texting, talking, on Facebook, or playing games. How can I get her to understand that I am more important than her iPhone?

  • GOMy dad texts a lot when he drives. I watched a show about how many people die in car crashes from texting, and I'm scared it might happen to my dad! I've tried telling him, but he yelled at me to not be so nosy. Help!

  • GOMy dad and my sister are always fighting. When they fight, they try to bring me into the middle of it and then I start crying. What should I do?

  • GOI was an only child for ten years, then my mother and my step-dad had my baby sister, who is now almost a year old. My mom doesn't give me attention because she's too busy with my little sister. My parents are planning to have one more. I love my baby sister, but I'm scared that if my mom has one more she'll forget about me, and that I'll always be alone. I'm feeling really sad thinking about this situation. What should I do? HELP!

  • GOI really want to get a haircut in a different style, but I can't find the courage to ask my parents. What should I do?

  • GOMy dad likes to blame stuff on me. For instance, if one of my younger sisters were to do something wrong, the first person that comes to his mind is me. It just makes me feel angry that he thinks something is always my fault. I really need some advice!

  • GOMy mom has called me stupid for making an 88 on a vocabulary test and they are 9th grade words and I'm only in 7th grade!...My mom and dad have called me "the stupidest thing" or their "stupidest daughter." It hurts my feelings but I try to hold it in. When they call me those nicknames, I feel like I ruined their lives. I feel like I can't express my feelings to my parents because I'm afraid I'll be grounded or even lectured...I'm afraid to express myself. Can you help me?

  • GOMy mom and I are going bra shopping this weekend for the FIRST time! I am really excited about it, but the talking part I am freaking out about it! Should we talk? What should we talk about? Help me please!

  • GOHelp! I have no privacy! My parents always check my emails and texts! If I delete something from someone I don't know, they yell at me. My sister reads all of my private notebooks that she knows she is not supposed to touch! I feel like I can't trust anyone in my family!

  • GOI feel like me and my mom don't have a good friendship. I think she pays more attention to my special needs sister and my brother than me. She doesn't talk to me much, I have no clue why she doesn't take me to the mall when she goes, and I'm starting to think she's embarrassed by me. She isn't abusive, we just don't have a special connection.

  • GOI got caught texting some bad things to someone and my mom found out. Now I lost my mom's trust. I don't know any way to get it back. HELP!!

  • GOI can't tell my mom ANYTHING! I told her a celeb was cute and she FREAKED, saying, "You're not allowed to like boys!" I'm almost 13 and she thinks that I'm still 7! I can tell my grandma more than I can tell my mom, and I'm so tired of it. She is so overprotective. She even followed me to a movie because my friend's brother was there and he's 10! HELP!

  • GOIt's almost my birthday, and my dad talked to me about ‘Man Day.’ When my birthday comes, we are going to go out hunting and have a couple of beers together, he said. It's how he grew up, but I don't feel completely comfortable with this. I know it's a traditional thing, and I don't want to hurt his feelings by saying no. But it seems like such a good time to really bond with my dad. What should I do?

  • GOWhen I was in my mom's purse looking for something she asked for, I found cigarettes in it. Also, she almost saw me. I think that she's smoking, and she's doing it because she is tired. After all, she is a teacher, has 4 kids (counting me), and she is divorced. She is only 33! And she said a year ago to not smoke. She knows better. I want to ask her, but I am too shy. What should I do?

  • GOMy parents won't let me watch anything that pertains to the ‘Twilight’ series. No watching it or even playing ‘dress up the Twilight character’ online. Nothing! It's really hard now with all the attention on ‘New Moon.’ They don't like the science-fiction story, vampires (they say nothing good comes from them), or anything! I feel like I'm missing a lot, when I see commercials or read interviews. HELP!

  • GOHow do I convince my VERY overprotective dad to let me go to this community event with my best friend? He's very judgmental and he judges all of my friends. Please help me.

  • GOPlease help me! My dad is obese, and he keeps saying how he'll start his diet soon but never does, and he snacks all the time and when I try to talk to him seriously, he just jokes that he only eats because he's stressed from work, or that he's fine and to stop bugging him! And I ALWAYS see fast food wrappers and drinks in his car! Help me please. I don't want anything to happen to him because he eats so unhealthy! What do I do?

  • GOMy parents have set up a parental control on our TV. It prevents me from watching anything except baby shows. I try talking about it, but they don't listen. Even though the setting is mostly to keep my 3-year-old brother from watching scary things, they still apply it to me! I mean, come on, I'm 11! Not 3! Please help!

  • GOI want an AIM email account. I ask my mom about it and she says she will think about it, but every time I remind her, she blows it off like it doesn't matter. I really want one but I don't know how to bring it up without making her mad now. Please help!

  • GOMy birthday is in two weeks and I really want my hair cut JUST to my mom's length but my dad won't let me. I really think I am going to be old enough to do what I want with my hair. (Meaning cut it to the length I want. And I'm going to be 11.) How do I convince my dad I'm old enough?

  • GOMy parents are always treating me like I'm 3 years old, even though I'm 2 months away from being 12. They always say that I'm their Little Jordie or Sugar Pie. I love my parents but they can't accept that I'm growing up and my friends' moms and dads are treating them like their own ages and they have chores. What should I do?

  • GOMy parents expect me to get all A's. If I get a really high B, I get yelled at for a long time. One time I got a 98 on a test and my dad yelled at me because it wasn't a 100. I've tried talking to them about it, but they just say that anything lower than an A is not acceptable. My parents also expect me to get extremely high ISTEP+ scores. It's making me really sad. My dad has called me stupid before, all because I got a B on my report card. I really need help.

  • GOI HATE MY MOM! She drives me nuts! I NEVER feel good about myself around her. She yells and gets mad easily! I don't want to confront her about it cause I know she'll get mad! Can you help me?

  • GOMy parents went to this meeting about your children and computers, and now I feel like they don't trust me and want to know every detail of my life. They want to know my school e-mail password and my dad even checks the history after I've used the computer! HELP!

  • GOMy mom is always spending time with my 2 little brothers even though I'm her only daughter. We never get to talk about mother/daughter stuff. How can I find a way to talk to my mom and spend more one-on-one time with her?

  • GOI just learned about puberty, getting your period and other things like shaving and growing breasts. I'm excited for these things to happen to me so I can feel more grown up. I think I'm way too young to be starting these things and I'm afraid my parents think the same. I always get my courage worked up to talk to my mom and then it goes away. I try writing letters to my mom but she still hasn't talked to me about it yet. When I ask her to bring me to the store to buy a bra, she thinks I'm kidding. I think I need one because I feel self-conscious about my body if I don't have one on. I really need help talking to my mom. What should I do?

  • GOMy mom only lets me watch baby stuff, like Dora, Teletubbies, and Dragon Tales. I really want mom to let me watch older shows. What should I do?

  • GOI think my mom hates me. She really never spends time with me and when she angry she calls me a mistake and calls me names. Also lately she’s become very mean and gives me a glare every time I walk past her. What should I do to make her not so mean anymore and make her like me again?

  • GOMy parents just got a divorce and every weekend we switch off (my mom's weekend one week and my dad's weekend the next week). I live with my mom and I hate going over to my dad's house, but I don't want to tell him that I don't like coming over because I don't want to hurt his feelings. Please tell me what to do!

  • GOI can never talk to my mom about anything! If I tell her something she ends up telling her friends and my dad and everyone. How can I stop my mom from telling everyone my feelings?

  • GOI broke my parents' trust. Now they won't let me back online, just because someone on my friends list was not who they said they were. I don't think I did anything wrong, but I'm being punished for it. What can I do to earn back my parents' trust?

  • GOWhen my parents get angry at me, they call me names like "a good for nothing" and "useless" and it really hurts. And sometimes it's not even my fault or they're being unreasonable. What should I do?

  • GOMy parents are 'taking a break' and each night I cry, even when my dad calls to read me and my brother a story. I don't want to tell him I cry every night but it's bringing me and my mom pain.

  • GOMy parents are so controlling and never let me make my own decisions. This summer they are making me go to stupid camps and I don't have a choice. It's just so hard because I know they love me...and they wanna help me not be alone all summer...but it's driving me crazy! This summer I planned on hanging out with friends and going in my pool. I hate this! Please help me. I'm miserable!

  • GOI am 13 and my mom is always trying to butt into my life! I know sheis just trying to help but she always asks me, Are you and your friends fighting? Why aren't you hanging out with so-and-so this weekend? It gets so annoying! I told her that I would tell her when I want to talk but she still doesn't listen! I have a boyfriend and she is afraid we're going to go too far too young! I tell her that I can make my own decisions and that I know what is too far but she still doesn't trust me with it. What should I do?

  • GOMy mom doesn't trust my friends. She doesn't let me go to their houses and she doesn't let them come to mine. She asks me about how good their grades are and stuff, but I don't want to tell her because she tells me to make new friends if they don't get good grades! She's always worried about this stuff and never let me sleep over at their houses! I am seriously stressed out about this because I'm always alone on the weekends!!!! I need to make her trust my friends, I need to tell her that I DO KNOW how to make good friends!

  • GOOkay, so I am 9 and my parents will not let me have a sleepover. I mean, what is up with that? My older sister is 14 and has sleepovers all the time. Please help me make my parents trust me to have a sleepover! THANKS!

  • GOI caught my MOM reading my DIARY!!!!! It has all my problems and crushes in it. Can you please give me some advice?

  • GOMy dad has anger problems. He gets mad at someone and takes it out on the whole family. Just 5 minutes ago, I was getting gum and I heard my dad say to my mom, "Why'd you let her put the blank on in there?" (Blank means an inappropriate word.) He was so mad I started crying and said, "You obviously don't care about how I feel, so just watch what you want!" I was giving him what he wanted, yet he yelled "TURN IT DOWN!" Every night I cry myself to sleep because I don't know what tomorrow will bring. Then he acts all lovey-dovey and then he gets all mad again. What should I do?

  • GOMy parents have been fighting so much lately. I'm always scared because I'm afraid something bad will happen. I don't want it to affect school. I don't want to lose another father, or my little sister to have the same problem. What can I do?

  • GOPLEASE HELP ME. My mom isn't letting me go to a school dance, and she won't tell me why! I think she's worried that I might do drugs or something, but I SWEAR TO ANYTHING I WILL NEVER EVER DO THAT. And my parents know so, they trust me. But they never let me go to dances and I'm in grade 9!!! How can I make them change their minds?

  • GO"My mom just had a baby. He cries a lot and she ignores me! What should I do?"

  • GOI feel like I am to blame for my parents getting separated. They have been separated since I was 10. I feel like now I don't exist in their worlds. All the attention goes to my brother and sister. What should I do with this problem? mom!

  • GOMy mom is SO annoying. My friend's mom is SO awesome; my friend can tell her mom ANYTHING. I can't talk to my mom about personal stuff like guys that I think are hot and other girl stuff, if u know what I mean. She always bothers me about celebs that I like. Even if I did talk to her, she would tell my dad everything that I told her and he would bother me about it. Other than not being able to talk to her about certain stuff, she's a great mom!

  • GOMy parents don't listen to me. They don't take my opinions into consideration AT ALL! When I ask if they are even listening to what I am saying, they say they are, but they don't understand that hearing what I'm saying and respecting my opinions are two totally different things. I don't care if they agree with me, but when I try to talk things out with them, they are planning what they will ground me from or what they will say to me after I'm finished AS I AM SPEAKING! They don't let me explain my actions and it hurts me! When I try to explain why I feel neglected and ignored by them, they just ground me for a few weeks. How can I confront them and tell them to listen without being punished unreasonably? Help!

  • GO"My parents are pushing me WAY too much. I do well in school and am in many advanced classes. I used to play piano, but I had too many other commitments. I play volleyball almost year-round, and at the moment I am not doing so now. It's almost the end of the school year, so I want that time to study for finals, but my parents keep pushing me to play volleyball, get a job, take more advanced classes, and do well in all of them! What should I do?!"

  • GO"I have a disabled sib; he has autism. But at home I think he's just my bro. My parents don't. They think the world revolves around him. When I talk to them about it they say that I'm being dramatic and that I want the world to revolve around me! They've tried to explain to me that he has a disability and I know that. I'm never alone with them so I can't do anything without him coming and messing it up! How can I get them to understand that all I want is a little more attention without being rude or whiny?"

  • GOI have 2 baby sisters and a toddler brother whos a handful. I am the good kid but Im the one whos blamed if my folks dont get enough sleep, Im the one whos always sweared at and Im the one who gets in trouble for no reason whatsoever! Anyway, I really would love it if you could give me some advice.

  • GOI just turned 13 and I am so loving it. But it's not fair that my parents are always over my shoulder! I think that if they could, they would strap a video camera to my head and let me walk around with it all day. Whenever I come home from school my dad calls me and asks me like a billion questions like: What took you so long to get home? or Did you see any boys today? I mean REALLY! What should I do?

  • GOI am in 7th grade. At the end of last year, my mom got me a bra. But it was just a plain cotton one. I want push-up bras or ones that aren't boring like cotton. All my friends have them. I don't know how to ask my mom because she's not that easy to talk to about these things. In 5th grade, I asked her about getting a bra and she said that I didn't need one yet. I guess I am just afraid of being turned down.

  • GOMy dad eats a lot of bad food. My family tells him that it is bad for him, but he doesn't listen. I'm afraid he is going to die. What should I do?

  • GOHi, I really love my mom. But, she loves my hair long. I am really tired of it. The same old everyday. I am ready to make a change. I feel I am responsible enough to get my hair cut. How can I convince her that I want my hair cut, without hurting her feelings?

  • GOI live with only my dad (my mom's dead) and I want a bra but I'm embarrassed to ask my dad to get me one. If I get one without his permission and he finds out, he'll be angry and ask me questions, like why I thought I needed a bra. I wouldn't be comfortable talking to him about that kind of stuff! I've asked someone else for advice and they said to write him a letter, but it didn't work. What should I do?

  • GOI really want to babysit these 2 kids in my neighborhood. They don't even live far away, just 3 houses down. Their parents have asked me a couple of times. But I had to refuse because my parents think it's too dangerous, even though I'll be around the neighborhood! I want to make some money to buy things not only for myself, but for presents. My 11-year-old friend Sara babysits. Why can't I? How can I convince them?

  • GOOkayMy dad is into God and all, but I just dont believe in the same things. How do I tell my dad that I dont want to go to church? He says I dont have to go, but the alternative is being grounded for a week! I dont know what to do. The more I go to church, the more I know its not right for me.

  • GOI went to school in the 2nd grade and now I'm in the 5th. I've been home schooled most all my life. I want to go to school again and get friends cause I dont have many. But my mom says I'm the same boy cause I was a troublemaker but I'm not. I've changed a lot. How do I get her to let me? Thanks.

  • GOMy mom seems really depressed. When I come home from school, she's crying. And that makes me want to cry, too. I've already had a bad day! I lost my crush to someone else, my teacher's mean, and now I have to listen to this! It makes me sad and I hate it. She doesn't have the energy to do things around the house. Last night my dad had to cook dinner because my mom was crying herself to sleep on the couch. I give her a hug and tell her I love her, but that doesn't seem to make things better. What should I do?

  • GOMy parents are so overprotective! They won't let me get a cell phone. They think that it's way too expensive and I don't need one because there's always pay phones. Well, I have been researching phones for about a YEAR and I found that there are some REALLY CHEAP phones. But they don't care. And where I live, there are almost NO payphones. Everyone has a cell phone. They think that I will call bad people. I'm only going to use it for emergencies, talk to my parents, and MAYBE call my friends. But any time I talk to them about getting one they just laugh and think that I am joking. It makes me feel REALLY small.

  • GOI want to wear two-piece bathing suits but my parents told me that I'm 'too young to show that much skin.' How can I convince them that I'm old enough to wear them?

  • GOMy mom and everybody in my family thinks I'm crazy! I tell them that someday I will run for first woman president of the U.S.A., and that I will be something bigand then they start laughing. I just wish they could know that they are hurting my feelings. Please help me!

  • GOMe and my older sister both play soccer. Sometimes my parents set high goals for me so I can be as good as my sister. How can I be as good as her?

  • GOA few years ago, I begged my mom to get me a doll that everyone had. Now, I never touch it, even though it was very expensive. My mom now wants to take me to a place in New York thats all about the doll: American Girl Place. Since I never play with my doll, I don't want to waste $500 on a trip there. My mom is all excited about it. Should I go or not?

  • GOMy parents always talk to me about embarrassing things in public. Like when were in a restaurant, my mom just starts talking about 'growing up,' if you know what I mean. I hate it when they do that. Even when I tell them this, they still do it. How can I get them to stop?

  • GOLast spring my dad was having some problems. He didn't really have a good childhood and I don't know, he was kind of depressed and he went away and spent a month away from the family to 'sort things out.' When he came back at the beginning of the summer he seemed fine. But lately it seems like things are going back to the way they were, and he and my mom are spending a lot of time talking. I'm afraid that the same thing is going to happen again and I'm scared. What should I do?

  • GOI never feel safe to express my feelings to my parents or sitting down and spending time with them. I need some help!

  • GOMy mom has made me play piano for 9 years. I hate it, and I've told her that lots of times. She says its good for me. I believe her, but I don't want to play piano, I want to play the guitar. I own a guitar and I play it often. My mom says I can start another instrument, only I can't stop piano. Help me please!!!!

  • GOMy mom wont let me go shopping at the mall, but all my friends and I want to go. What do I do to get my mom to let me go?

  • GOMy parents put a lot of pressure on me. I get good grades in school, but sometimes I feel like even A's and B's aren't enough for them. I still have to go to bed at 9pm, and they won't let me get instant messenger or go to any chat rooms or anything. It's almost as if they are trying to keep me a little kid. How can I express to them that I want to be able to grow up without feeling guilty?

  • GOI think I have a singing/acting talent that I take seriously, but no one else will! Not even my parents! How do make people take my interests seriously?

  • GOMy mom doesn't want me in chat rooms. I like to go to chat rooms because it's fun to talk to other kids. I would never ever meet a perfect stranger in real life if I only talked to them in a chat room. And if someone makes me feel uncomfortable, I know that I should ignore that person and leave. I'm old enough and know all the safety precautions and stuff. How can I tell her that I'm old enough to just chat with other kids?

  • GOMy dad has gone out of town, which causes my mom loneliness even though I'm there. Recently she started college again, but that just passes the loneliness to me because on July 4th she had homework and that made
    her tired. A few neighbors were popping fireworks and I wanted my mom to see them but she didn't, and that made me feel like we were from different planets. In other words, we aren't spending much time together. What should I do?

  • GOI feel I am a very responsible person, and I believe that I am capable of taking care of a dog, but my parents don't approve. How can I get their approval?

  • GOJust like Nancy, one of my parents passed away (my dad), and now my mom is going out with a longtime friend of the family. I've talked to my mom and now she knows how I feel, but I just don't think she knows how much pain she's causing me. I just get so mad sometimes I want to cry.

  • GOMy mom is a very beautiful person. But ever since she remarried, she's changed. I don't like my stepfather because he is mean to me when we are alone. My mom has changed and now she's mean too. The only time I don't feel pressured is in school. I don't feel good at home. I'm afraid to talk to my mom about it. What should I do?

  • GOMy mom wont let me dress a certain way. Shes always telling me to be myself and to be original, but when I do she always tells me to go change.

  • GOBrianna, Tamara, and Janelle all need advice on how to get their parents permission to start dating.

  • GOMy mom passed away, and my dad has been talking about dating lately. I don't want him to date, but I haven't told him this because I don't feel comfortable talking to him. He met a woman and they've been going steady. I don't like her and I haven't told him. The weird thing is that she is my best friend's aunt!!!!

  • GO"My dad keeps calling me stupid, even though I really am not. I get straight A's and I have won the spelling bee before. But now, I find that I am starting to call myself stupid, and I feel that if I don't stop this, I am going to believe that I am stupid. I know that my dad is just kidding, but he never says that he is, so maybe he isn't. What should I do?"

  • GO"My parents won't listen to me when I say that they can die from smoking. What can I do?"

  • GO"We recently moved, and I'm not happy with the people or the location of my new home, and I need some time for just my mom and me. How do I approach my mom in a way that she doesn't feel criticized?"

  • GO"My parents won't let me see a movie that I want to see really bad. What should I do?"

  • GO"I want a raise on my allowance, but my mom won't even talk about it with me! I'm only asking for a $5 raise! What should I do?"

  • GO"My parents are divorced and I live with my Dad. When I visit my Mom, I try to talk to her about me not wanting to live with her, and she keeps saying that I can't stay with my Dad all my life. What should I do? I don't want to hurt her feelings."

  • GO"I can't talk to my parents about anything. I am an only child and often feel lonely. My parents are overprotective (they watch the news too much) and they have weird superstitions that something will happen to me. I feel like I am in a cage. I can't talk to anyone about it. Plz give me some advice on what to do."

  • GO"My parents are way too protective. They won't let me have a spare key, they won't let me stay home alone, AND they won't let me have a sleepover without a month's notice! Help! How can I prove to them that I can do all this stuff?"

  • GO"I can't talk to my mom or dad about grades. If I get an F
    my mom will flip out. What should I do?"

  • GO"Every teacher has high expectations for me. My parents make me work way too hard. Recently, I got a 90% on my math test and my parents nearly blew the roof."

  • GOSeveral of you had questions about how to handle it when your parents argue or call each other names in front of you.

  • GO"My mom smokes way too much. She says she has it under control, but I think she's wrong. I don't want her to get sick and die, and now my friends say her breath smells. How can I tell her how I feel?"

  • GO"My mom doesn't want me to go to middle school. Instead, she wants me to go to a Christian school. I really would like to stay with all of my friends. How do I talk to her about this?"


Dear IML,
Last spring my dad was having some problems. He didn't really have a good childhood and I don't know, he was kind of depressed and he went away and spent a month away from the family to 'sort things out.' When he came back at the beginning of the summer he seemed fine. But lately it seems like things are going back to the way they were, and he and my mom are spending a lot of time talking. I'm afraid that the same thing is going to happen again and I'm scared. What should I do?
--Li, 13

An expert responds:
From Faye Terrebonne Arco, M.Ed., Drug Prevention School Safety Specialist, PPS - School Counseling

Dear Li,
Sometimes the things that frighten us the most are the things we do not know or understand. It is natural for you to worry about your dad, but it may be more helpful to you and to your family if you get the facts. Perhaps you could talk to your mom in private and let her know how worried you are. Be honest with her about your feelings. Together you and your mom may be able to work out a way for you to help. Sometimes, a person needs time and professional help to work through things. Support your father in small ways. For instance, try talking to him about your day, suggesting a movie or sports activity you could do with him, or just letting him know that he is loved. Most importantly, remember to take care of yourself and talk to your school counselor or a trusted adult about your feelings. You need support too!

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Dear IML,
I never feel safe to express my feelings to my parents or sitting down and spending time with them. I need some help!
--Yamna, 11

The IML Mentors respond:

Hi Yamna,
It is not easy talking to parents. I have a bad habit of keeping to myself because sometimes I feel real uncomfortable about talking them. I think they are judging me and that I will disappoint them. So I keep a lot of my feelings inside, and what ends up happening is a major blow up on my part and an all night lecture. My parents emphasize that we (the kids) should talk to them with any problems that we are having or anything that is on our minds. Even so, I get nervous and close up (kind of like a sunflower when the night comes). But I think that as I am growing up I am beginning to figure out something. They were once my age. They once experienced peer pressure, low self-esteem, raging hormones, unfair teachers, and all that stuff. The thing with parents is they try to protect us from the badness of the world. Although it might not seem like it sometimes because they yell at us and wont let us streak our hair. They love us. As kids I think we need to trust in that and pray that that love is what comes through when we are having problems and need to express our feelings to our parents. Yamna, I know it is difficult to talk to parents because you arent sure what their reaction might be. Maybe they wont take you seriously. Maybe they will make it more serious than you think it is. Its hard!! But they love you and they were eleven once too. Although it was back when Lincoln was president (ha ha), the same types of problems were dealing with today they were dealing with then. I suggest you give some thought about what it is you want to say. Then get your parents alone so that they know you want to talk. Let them know whats on your mind. This really works for me!
--Vanessa, IML Mentor

Dear Yamna,
It's really common for pre-teens and teens to feel that way, and there is nothing wrong with you or your parents. The most important thing for you to do is to find out WHY. Why is it that you don't feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with them? Is it that they couldn't really understand what your feelings are? Is it that you find it embarrassing to tell them things only to find out that they tell your friends' parents about it? After finding out the reason, start thinking about how to make yourself more comfortable. If possible, try to arrange a family outing or something so that you can be with them in a relaxed way. Once you've had a new and enjoyable experience being with them where you were able to share your ideas, hopefully the shadow will be gone and your fears slowly leave. Good luck!
--Joyce, IML Mentor

Dear Yamna,
I have had this problem so many different times with my family, too. It's a very common problem, and my friends sometimes tell me about how they would like to connect more with parents. The thing you must remember is that they LOVE you! Think about all the different things they do for you in a day! If they didn't love you, they wouldn't drive you places, buy you things, care about your grades in school, anything! Remembering that, I understand how sometimes parents can be unapproachable, but maybe you should give your parents a chance. If you haven't already done this, try to actually talk to them, or just one of them at a time, about whatever problems you might have. If they are attentive, that's great and you were judging them wrong. However, if they are not attentive or caring, try telling them that when you confide in them, you would appreciate it if they were more attentive. Tell them that you need someone to talk to and that you want to improve your relationship with them. Good luck!
--Samantha, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
My mom has made me play piano for 9 years. I hate it, and I've told her that lots of times. She says its good for me. I believe her, but I don't want to play piano, I want to play the guitar. I own a guitar and I play it often. My mom says I can start another instrument, only I can't stop piano. Help me please!!!!
--Leah, 11

The IML Mentors respond:

Hi Leah!
Let me first say that I've been playing piano for 9 years too, and recently started learning guitar. One thing I've noticed is how helpful playing piano has been for me. Switching between chords is a lot easier when your fingers are used to moving around quickly! I think you need to examine what it is that you hate about piano. Is it the practicing? The teacher? If you can change the situation (get a new teacher, etc.), then do it. If you truly don't like piano, then talk to your mom and explain why you want to stop. Remember that she's been paying for piano lessons for the past 9 years; if you quit now, she might see all that time and money as wasted. She may be reluctant to start you on another instrument because she thinks you'll quit guitar too. Prove her wrong by practicing regularly and maybe come to an agreement. An example would be to play both instruments for a year (6 months, 3 months, whatever you want), and if you still hate piano after all that time, that she'd let you quit. When you talk to her, remember to explain your opinion maturely, and shell probably be more willing to listen to your suggestions. Good luck!
--Lauren, IML Mentor

Hi Leah,
My family is having a similar issue with my little sister. Marissa wants to be an actress when she gets older. However, she doesnt want to go to college. My parents are strong advocates for following ones dreams, but theyre also big on education. My sister argues up the yin-yang, pointing out that college wont be useful in acting because she will never use the quadratic equation or write a thesis in real life. They have come up with an arrangement. My parents will pay for acting school if Marissa agrees to finish her undergraduate studies. So, Marissa not only gets a Bachelors degree in the major of her choice, but she also gets to go to acting school. Maybe theres a similar arrangement you can make with your mom. For instance, you and your mom could agree that after youve reached a certain level of piano playing, you can go full time with guitar. But what if your mom doesnt give way and you get stuck playing the piano until youre old enough to move out? In that case, maybe you should look on the bright side. It cant be that horrible being multi-talented! Your piano skills may come in handy in the future in ways you cant even imagine now.
--Vanessa, IML Mentor

Dear Leah,
Nine years is a long time to be doing anything. My grandma used to make me take piano from the age of 2 until 6 or 7. Then I wanted to stop so she let me stop, and I regret it now that I'm 16. I tried to take lessons again when I was in middle school but it was harder. I got frustrated and gave up lessons then too. I can still play piano, but not as well as I would've been able to if I hadn't stopped lessons. I also play guitar and it can be a lot of fun. Maybe you can strike a deal with your mom where you continue taking piano but also take up a guitar lesson during the week. Try asking her to have fewer piano lessons a week and more guitar lessons, and eventually, you might be able to replace half of your piano lessons with guitar lessons. Above all, compromise with your mom. Guitar may be fun but piano has more advantages, especially if you plan on doing something in band in middle school or high school or even college.
--Rachel, IML Mentor

Dear Leah,
I can't believe how similar my situation was with yours! My mom has made me play the piano for more than 10 years (I only stopped last year) and I have always hated it, since I wasn't good at it at all (actually, I was awful!). Just like yours, my mom has always told me that it's good for me. Since the two moms agree at this point, don't you think that there might be some truth in it? I think the piano is actually a pretty nice first instrument for you to build the basis for making music with other instruments. Like if you start playing guitar, you may find that playing piano has trained up your fingers, your rhythmic sense, etc. so that it all comes easier. I think it's probably better for you two to reach a compromise, like you can start taking guitar lessons while taking piano lessons on a less tight schedule or something (you can definitely split up your "music-playing schedule" to accommodate both piano and guitar). I hope things work out for you and your mom.
--Joyce, IML Mentor

Hi Leah,
I agree with you that you shouldnt be made to do something when you are not enjoying it. However, its probably not a good idea to tell your mom that you hate the piano. Instead, try saying you dont enjoy playing the piano. Let her know the guitar makes you feel so much happier and you feel like it gives you more musical expression. Talk to your mom about maybe playing piano less often and the guitar more so you dont end up getting to the point that you never want to play the piano again. Let her know you understand that playing the piano is good for you, but youre also growing into playing the guitar as you develop your musical interests. Try talking to her in a different way and give her time to think about what you say. Maybe youll meet halfway on an agreement you can both live with. Anything is worth an effort to be happy. Good luck!
--Carren, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
My mom wont let me go shopping at the mall, but all my friends and I want to go. What do I do to get my mom to let me go?
--Brittany, 11

The IML Mentors respond:

Dear Brittany
It's understandable that your mom is worried about you being alone, and in order for this to work, you and your mom will need to agree on something. Maybe you can offer her a compromise: Tell your mom that if she lets you go to the mall, she can be the one to take you to there and even stay there to shop herself, while you can meet your friends. Explain that before you split up, you can make a meeting time and place for or when you are both ready to leave. If you're at the meeting spot on time and act responsibly for a few of these "mall experiences" of going with her, maybe shell see how independent youre becoming and let you go off alone. But until then, make a compromise! I hope this all works out for you!
--Kerri, IML Mentor

Dear Brittany,
Your mom has good reasons for not allowing you to go to the mall unsupervised, and she's just trying to protect you. Maybe you could build up to your goal by first asking her to take you and several friends that she trusts to the mall. Then you could ask her if she wouldn't mind letting you go to specific stores by yourselves. You and your friends could meet her later at a desired location. If you show your mom that she can trust you with a small group of friends, maybe she'll allow you to go without her in the near future.
--Tiffany, IML Mentor

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