Dear Family Coach: My son is 14 years old, and he thinks he's the greatest baseball player who ever lived. It's getting really annoying. He brags incessantly, repeatedly shows people YouTube clips of his home runs for the high school freshman team and brags about a Major League future. It is driving me crazy, and it surely annoys most people. What can I do? — Bragged Out Mom
Dear Bragged Out: Take a deep breath. Your son is one of about 10 million American teens who think they're the greatest human to walk the Earth. Picture the head cheerleader, the student council president and the basketball captain. Heck, think back when you were that age. Remember? You referred to yourself in the third person while cruising the halls in your aqua-and-beige member's only jacket. (Oh, wait. That was my husband.)
Arrogance is an interesting personality quirk in that teens somehow rarely see it. Kids that age brag out of insecurity, a desire to be heard and their trying to establish a place in the pecking order. Yes, they know they're being boastful. But do they know it's inappropriate and maddening and eternally irritating? No. So, in very direct terms, talk to your son. Say: "Look, we're proud of you. We truly are. You're tremendous. But you have to stop bragging because it turns people off and makes you look like a jerk." Be clear about how bragging often serves to make others feel worse about themselves — while he's boasting about a 0.600 batting average, someone nearby is in a zero-for-15 slump. Also, explain how outwardly arrogant adults usually wind up being lonely or unemployable.
Oh, and one last thing. You say your son plays freshman baseball. Well, he'll eventually move up to varsity, where the fastballs will hit around 80 mph and the curveballs will be nasty. Let's see how cocky he is then.
Dear Family Coach: My husband and I were having sex recently, and I guess the noise became pretty loud. My son's room is next to ours, and he banged on the wall and said, "Too noisy. Please stop!" He is 11 years old. I'm humiliated. How do I address this? — Loud Mother
Dear Loud: First, take a deep breath. You did nothing wrong, and you and your husband are certainly allowed to have sex in your room, even with Junior mere feet away.
If you have yet to talk to your son about sex, well, the time is nigh. You don't have to go into extraordinary details; give him a basic yet thorough outline. Elaborate and emphasize the fact that for two married adults, making love (an easier term to digest) in their own home is a part of life.
It is ideal for you or your husband sit down with your son and encourage questions and inquiries. If he hasn't learned about sex from friends or TV or social media, it'll happen soon enough. So beat them all to the punch and control the message. Be direct and open. Don't try and squirm your way out of the inevitable awkwardness. Sex is a way to procreate, but it's also a way to connect. It's OK for children to understand that storks are merely storks, not baby-delivery services. Truthfully, it will help him greater appreciate the relationship you have with your husband. You and your husband are not merely there to make peanut butter sandwiches and chauffeur him to and from lacrosse practices. You are a couple and a team, and you created him.
As for the noise, he can certainly do without the soundtrack. I'd suggest either investing in a fan for the room or just keeping it down.
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.