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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.

Advice Topics:

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,
My 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?
--Martha, 10

An expert responds:
From Josephine Schiff, MSW, LCSW, school social worker in Northern New Jersey

Dear Martha,
Thanks for writing to IML. Yes, your mom does seem depressed. Crying, having no energy, and losing interest in things are symptoms of depression. Martha, it may not seem to make things better when you hug her, but it does. She is having a hard time showing it. Her depression is not your fault, and there are many others who care about you. You sound like youve been going through a rough time in school, too. What concerns me, Martha, is that its important to have someone to talk to. Is there a school counselor or teacher (not the mean one!) you can talk to? I really suggest having a talk with your Dad, because he can reassure you about your moms condition and how, as a family, you can all cope with this situation. Take care, and let us know how you and your mom are doing.

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Dear IML,
My 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.
--Matt, 12

The IML Mentors respond:

Hey Matt!
I am 18 years old and barely got my driving permit. My parents are overprotective too. They mean well. But, how embarrassing! All my friends have been driving for over two years now, and I've just gotten behind the wheel. My parents have reasoned that as long as they are available to take me places, I don't need to learn how to drive. I feel like such a baby having my Mommy drive me to school and to the movies, and if I want to go somewhere but she doesn't want to take me, I'm stuck at home. But they don't care, at least it seems that way. Perhaps they just care too much. The more and more I drive, the higher the risk of me being involved in a car accident. It is a lot of responsibility to drive a car. Although much smaller than a car, a cell phone is a lot of responsibility, too. You have to monitor the minutes of your phone, be sure it is always charged, be sure to have it with you at all times, and carry it carefully so as not to drop it or lose it. Some cell phones are pretty cheap, and I bet you can probably find a plan that is reasonably priced too. But I don't think your parents are concerned about that. They are concerned that you are not responsible to have a cell phone yet. I have to prove to them that I will be a responsible, cautious, and safe driver; I think you have to prove to your parents that you are ready for a cell phone. Show them that you are responsible by taking initiative with chores, doing your homework before mom bugs you, treating your sibs as if they were human beings, etc. Try that and then present them with the cell phone prices and plans. SHOW them how serious you are, and they might consider things differently.
--Vanessa, IML Mentor

Dear Matt,
I think the best way to get your parents to listen is to ask them to sit down with you and explain to them all of the reasons why you need a cell phone. Explain to them how you have done your research on phones and have worked everything out like the price and how many minutes you can use. It is very important to show them that they can trust you and that you will be responsible and organized. To impress them, maybe try to pick one cell phone that is a good deal. Type up a list of reasons you need the cell phone and a list of who would be the only people you would call. Make a project out of it and your parents just might see that you took these matters in your own hands and are really dedicated to getting this phone. Ask your parents politely to trust you this once so you can prove to them that you deserve a cell phone and will be responsible with it. Remember that your parents are just looking out for you and making sure that you will be in no danger by getting a cell phone. Its hard to admit as a teenager myself, but from experience you will learn that parents seem to always know best and are always looking out for your best interests.
--Joel, IML Mentor

Hey Matt,
It's true -- it does seem like everyone has a cell phone! In fact, a lot of my friends don't even use their home phones anymore. Have you ever thought about raising money for a cell phone yourself? See if you can start getting an allowance for doing chores around the house and make a deal with your parents to pay part of the phone cost. Also, a lot of cell phone companies have family plans, so if your parents already have phones (or if they want them), you could be added on for less than an individual plan. Point out to them that getting you a phone will benefit them, because as you get older, you'll go places without them more often; with a phone, it will be easier for them to reach you. Right now they probably think you only want it for selfish reasons, and that it's not necessary in your life. Show them how it will make life easier for them and you, and try to help out with the cost. Hopefully, they might change their minds before your next birthday.
--Lauren, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
I 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?
--Trina, 12

The IML Mentors respond:

Hey Trina!
Ah, parents and their dress code rulesalways a difficult topic. I found that the best way to deal with these kinds of situations is to compromise. If they won't let you wear bikinis, there are a lot of tankinis that are really cute that don't show off as much of your body. Or maybe you could find a bikini that has shorts for bottoms and the tops have more coverage than triangles of fabric. Keep in mind that your parents aren't trying to ruin your pool fun, they're trying to protect you. What is a piece of clothing to you can be a huge distraction to boys, and while you may get attention, it's probably not the kind that you want (or that your parents want you to have). Who wants to be liked just for physical reasons? One more thing: bikinis arent all theyre cracked up to be. If you're at the beach in a bikini, sometimes it's hard to play volleyball, swim, run, etc. due to lack of comfort and the impending fear that your top will come untied!
--Lauren, IML Mentor

Dear Trina,
I know two-pieces are cute but sometimes they can be too revealing and risqu for younger girls. There are many responsibilities that come with showing more skin than usual. Your parents are just trying to protect you. But, I understand your frustrations so I will suggest that you tell your parents about the "tankini." A "tankini" is a two-piece bathing suit where the top is a tank top style and the bottom is a bikini or boy short style. Maybe your parents will be more lenient towards that type of suit. If all else fails, you can always purchase an extremely cute one-piece suit!
--Tiffany, IML Mentor

Hey Trina!
My parents are very strict. I will be eighteen this month and my Dad still wont let me wear bikinis. He says that I have to be conservative as long as I live in his house. Well, Im not moving out anytime soon, so too bad for me, I guess. But during the years there have been other articles of clothing I have been able to gradually implement, thanks to the art of negotiation. For the longest time I couldnt wear tank tops because they show my shoulders and my Dad didnt want me to. But its hot! Id protest. Well, hed say, go take a shower. One day, I found this really thick tank top and because the strap was at least two inches, he let me wear it. My advice to you is first, understand their point-of-view, even its just the fact that no is no. Then, find a bathing suit that is not so revealing, like a tankini. If that wont work, try a halter one-piece. There are a lot of cute bathing suits that are not bikinis; you just need to do a little research and be creative. It is very important that you dont immerse yourself in the sole fact that you are restricted. Life is full of obstacles but we all just deal with them. See this as an obstacle that you just gotta work around. Your parents have the last word and that will always be so. We as the kids must improvise. Understand where they are coming from and they will see you as mature.
--Vanessa, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
My 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!
--Maria, 11

The IML Mentors respond:

Dear Maria (Future President),
It hurts when the people you love don't support your dream. However, what I have learned is that a big part of growing up is learning to separate your family and friend's wishes from your own. I know it sounds terrible, because as children we are very attached to our family's approval. But you need to become your own person and realize that you can be whatever you want to be. If your family thinks youre crazy, that's fine. After all, you don't need THEM to study and work hard, right? Work your hardest for your dream and don't pay attention to their reaction. It might also be a good idea to let your family know how serious you are, and how badly you feel hurt when they belittle your dreams. Let them know that even if theyre not fully convinced that you can do it, you still expect their support.
--Samantha, IML Mentor

Dear Maria,
Having someone you care about tell you that you can't succeed does hurt. When I was in the 8th grade, I decided to run for several high positions in my school's student government. Because I wasn't that popular, a lot of people tried to caution me because they didn't think I would win. By everyone implying that I wouldn't win, it gave me the strength to try even harder. Once December came, I was the president of the graduating class, the student body, and advisory representative. Perhaps your family wants you to think realistically since the past presidents have been all men. But Maria, if you really feel you want to become president and you have the determination and dedication to do so, Maria, you can do anything you set your mind to. I wish you luck in all your endeavors and I'll be looking for your name on the presidential ballot.
--Tiffany, IML Mentor

Dear Maria,
First of all, you are not crazy! Because if you are, then I am too! I also used to tell my parents that I want to be the first woman president of the U.S. But in a way, I couldnt blame them for dismissing it as a childhood fantasy. This is a really big ambition, you know. Sometimes it's hard for others to really understand that you mean it, you're good enough for it, and you're willing to work hard for it. I think that the most important thing is that you don't feel ashamed about your dreams. Everyone should be free to dream and to realize those dreams. So what I suggest that you do is to keep working hard at school so as to achieve as much as you can. There will come a day when youve really proven yourself, and you can tell your parents, See, I can do it! Good luck!
--Joyce, IML Mentor

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