Dear Family Coach: My 13-year-old son has a mustache, and I cannot stand it. It's more fuzzy than bushy, and it makes him look much older than he is. I've been begging him to shave it, but he refuses. Even some kids at school are harassing him and calling him Mustachio. How can I get him to shave it for his own good? — Mustachio's Mom
Dear Mom: I think you are asking the wrong question. Don't ask how you could make your son see the err in his facial hair ways. Instead, ask him what that mustache means to him. Here are the possible answers I predict.
The first answer is your son sees the hair, has no opinion about it and thus has no motivation to shave. If this is the case, you will only gnaw away at his self-esteem if you continue to push him to shave. Leave it alone.
The second possible response is he likes his mustache and is proud of it. Facial hair can have a variety of benefits for social status. Despite his classmates calling him Mustachio, he might actually enjoy the attention. Again, leave it alone.
The last possibility is your son also hates the hair on his face. He'd like to shave. But since you are incessantly pestering him, he has decided not to give in to your demands. At this point, all you can do is provide the tools he might need if he chooses to remove the hair. By backing off, you will allow him to make a decision based on his own wishes and desires. While this may be incredibly hard for you, get used to it. Your time of dressing and grooming him is over.
Dear Family Coach: I purchased a portable potty for my toddler. The potty folds out into a seat with a bag to catch the output. My daughter is obsessed with this potty. As soon as we enter the park, she immediately asks for it, even if she just went before we left the house, and she pees and poops sitting there in public with kids running all around her. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Should we make her be more modest? — Potty Lover's Mother
Dear Mother: Boy, are you lucky! Your kid loves her potty and wants to use it all the time — that's amazing. There are millions of parents who would trade positions with you in a heartbeat. Their kids won't go near the potty. Consider your daughter's infatuation a big success and a healthy obsession.
Too many children (and adults, for that matter) have bathroom issues. I'll just leave it at that. To preserve your daughter's ease and desire to use the toilet, try not to mess with her too much. If you are concerned about her lack of shyness, put the potty in the car or in a more discrete location.
Make sure to talk to your daughter about the concept of private parts. These are anything her underwear covers. When she gets older, it will obviously include a bra, but never mind that for now. Make sure she understands that her privates are special and aren't for everyone to see. Discuss the basics of touching that's wanted, like hugs, back scratches and foot rubs. These are only good touches if she wants them. Then, emphasize that no one except her parents and doctor (and only with her permission) is allowed to see or touch her privates. That'll cover the basics and allow your daughter to feel free to potty whenever she wishes.
Dr. Catherine Pearlman, the founder of The Family Coach, LLC, advises parents on all matters of child rearing. To write to Dr. Pearlman, send her an email at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Catherine Pearlman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.