parenting advice from Care and Feeding.

Woman hugging a teen girl sitting on a bench outside.
Picture illustration by Slate. Picture by Kikovic/iStock/Getty Pictures Plus.

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting recommendation column. Have a query for Care and Feeding? Submit it here or submit it within the Slate Parenting Facebook group.

Pricey Care and Feeding,

I’ve a really mature, fantastic stepdaughter who’s about to enter highschool. About six months in the past she determined she needs to reside along with her father and me (till now she’s been with us just about each weekend and quite a lot of holidays). My husband and I’ve a good relationship along with her mom, although she may be very temperamental and manipulative; as such, my stepdaughter is petrified of telling her. We’ve got mentioned many eventualities of how she may broach this topic along with her mom. My husband has advised his daughter that they might do it collectively, however she feels it ought to simply come from her. I don’t know what recommendation to provide her to assist her get by means of this extremely tough dialog and transition. I’ve discovered plenty of books on serving to youngsters by means of a divorce, however they have been by no means married, and I’ve been in my stepdaughter’s life since she was a child. Any ideas?

—Respectable Stepmom

Pricey DS,

There’s certainly little or no that has been written about navigating co-parenting between former companions who have been by no means married, however that ought to not dissuade you from trying to books and articles about divorced {couples} for steerage. You’ll simply must take the time to make sure they’re particularly addressing the problems you’re going through (such because the manipulative and temperamental habits you point out).

That mentioned, I’m inclined to agree {that a} one-on-one between mom and little one could be the perfect place to start out, adopted by conversations between your husband and his ex and, ultimately, between the three of you and/or one-on-one between you and her. You, your husband, and your stepdaughter should get on the identical web page about why this alteration is a good suggestion, and the way you two will have the ability to each help this younger lady and make sure that she maintains a wholesome, common relationship along with her mom after altering households.

In case you all reside in shut sufficient proximity to undertake a 50/50 association, you could want to discover that first. It might be tough to persuade your stepdaughter’s mom to regulate from being the first custodian to a weekends/holidays schedule (probably controversial take: I feel extra households ought to discover equitable divisions of time usually), and it might even be a difficult adjustment in your finish as nicely, even if you happen to all are enthusiastic in regards to the swap. If growing the time your stepdaughter is with you and your husband nonetheless leaves her feeling satisfied that she’d prefer to spend the vast majority of her time with you all, then you could want to attempt to make the extra drastic change.

In any other case (barring any particulars that I’m unaware of), your husband and his daughter have each proper to request this swap, and if you happen to all resolve that that is the perfect association, your duty is to be supportive and inspiring, whereas being conscious you can’t step in and repair this for them both. Assist your stepdaughter craft language that honors her relationship along with her mom, whereas explaining why the change is good for her. Make your self accessible to talk to her mom if needed, and be ready to let her understand how you’ll assist to make sure that the 2 of them will nonetheless have sufficient time collectively and that your stepdaughter got here to this conclusion on her personal with none prodding from you or your husband. I hope this goes as easily as might be for you all.

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Pricey Care and Feeding,

My husband and I are formally adopting a 3-month-old child woman in two weeks, and we’re very excited. She is Black, and my husband and I are white. We’re taking nice care to arrange for this new chapter in our lives, together with studying books which have been beneficial right here prior to now. Proper now, our little woman’s identify is Kaia. My husband’s grandmother and my aunt each handed away final yr, and I’ve been questioning if it could be OK to alter her first identify to Angelique (after each my husband’s grandmother and my aunt’s favourite singer, Angélique Kidjo) to honor them, and make Kaia her center identify. She’s too younger to be impacted by the change now, however we marvel if “Kaia” may have been chosen for a purpose by her organic mom and that she could possibly be upset to be taught that we modified it when she’s older. What do you assume?

—Nervous A few Identify Change

Pricey NAaNC,

In case you haven’t already, communicate to the officers with whom you labored to undertake your little bundle of pleasure and see if there’s any means you would possibly have the ability to discover out the importance of the identify that has been chosen for her. In that case, let that information your determination. If that isn’t potential, I feel the change is completely honest; you’ve chosen a ravishing first identify for her that has each private and cultural significance, and by making her authentic identify her center identify, you’re sustaining a connection between your daughter and her bio mom. If it’s the case that you just simply can’t make peace with the swap—say there’s some persistent feeling that you just’re making the incorrect alternative—then you could want to honor that intuition and take a look at “Kaia Angelique.” Finest needs and congrats on the thrilling new addition to your loved ones!

• In case you missed Friday’s Care and Feeding column, read it here.

• Talk about this column within the Slate Parenting Facebook group!

Pricey Care and Feeding,

Hello! I’m an 18-year-old about to depart residence for my freshman yr of faculty, and I’ve been feeling actually responsible about how relieved I’m to be away for some time. I don’t assume my residence life has essentially been the perfect, however I actually don’t wish to be leaping to conclusions or taking a look at it as a stereotypical moody teenager, so I assumed I’d ask for a little bit of an out of doors opinion/some perspective. My mom can generally get very indignant with my relations and me seemingly out of nowhere, yelling, cursing, and calling us names. Whereas it doesn’t occur each time she’s indignant, I’ve been referred to as lazy, egocentric, oversensitive, dramatic, and silly, and I get nervous each time she’s in a foul temper. These tough patches all appear to be transient exceptions to the rule, although. More often than not she’s extremely variety and supportive. Is that this regular parental habits? Am I overreacting? Thanks very a lot to your assist.

—Relieved to Depart the Nest

Pricey RtLtN,

Whereas most dad and mom lose their mood every so often or discover themselves feeling extremely pissed off with their kids, what you’re describing sounds a bit totally different than what could be thought of “regular.” After all, there’s no means I can say for sure from the surface, however what you’re describing appears like it might be hinting at some points with anger administration and/or psychological well being challenges.

Is there one other grownup in your life who you possibly can safely communicate to about what you’re experiencing and your issues about your mom? In that case, you must: They are able to encourage her to obtain some help or, on the very least, mirror on how her habits has affected her household. In any other case, you might have to start out this dialog along with her immediately.

In case you really feel secure doing so, let your mom understand how you’re feeling when she speaks to you in such a means, and that you’re involved about her. There isn’t a assure that she is going to have the ability to obtain this data, but it surely’s potential that she doesn’t notice how out-of-control her anger has grow to be. Maybe listening to about it from you’ll result in some severe self-reflection. If not, don’t take it personally or really feel that you’re in charge; points that forestall a dad or mum from exercising some restraint whereas addressing their kids are not the duty of these youngsters.

It might be the case that none of this works out nicely and that you just’ll merely have to attend till you’ve departed her residence to get some peace. Unlucky for certain, however no purpose to really feel responsible in your half. Do your finest to name consideration to the difficulty and deal with guaranteeing that your individual future parenting/interactions with these you like are outlined by the kind of respect and care you weren’t at all times afforded inside your individual residence. Wishing you all the perfect.

What’s the Finest Technique to Hold a Toddler From Escaping?

Dan Kois, Jamilah Lemieux, and Elizabeth Newcamp host this week’s episode of Slate’s parenting podcast, Mother and Dad Are Preventing.

Pricey Care and Feeding,

My spouse and I (each ladies) bought married when our daughters, who’re each from our earlier marriages, have been 3. Their dads will not be within the image, and so they grew up going to the identical faculties and in the identical grades. Now they’re each 15 and simply completed ninth grade, and I’m frightened and irritated by my bio daughter “Kate’s” angle towards her sister, “Maia.”

Kate is extra studious and a little bit of a tomboy, and he or she has largely male buddies who she performs video video games with. Maia is extra social and athletically targeted, runs observe, dances, and has a big group of “common” feminine buddies. She has had a few boyfriends, whereas Kate has had none. Each women get the identical (good) grades, however Kate sees herself as one way or the other higher than Maia and her buddies and complains about how guys “solely go for women who costume and act pretend like them” and the way she’s “the precise woman they want.” She brags about her time spent learning whereas Maia was off “worrying about her appears to be like” (aka coaching for the observe workforce). Maia simply brushes it off, however that is very annoying for us. We’ve tried speaking to her about it, but it surely begins up once more each time Maia isn’t round. It’s getting exhausting, and I’m on the finish of my rope. Assist.

—Bored with My Teenagers

Pricey ToMT,

It appears like Kate is having a quite common and uncomfortable expertise for a woman her age—feeling insecure about her personal “attractiveness” to her male friends—that’s exacerbated by having a sibling who represents each what she (allegedly) doesn’t wish to be and the kind of consideration she needs to obtain from guys. It is best to handle this immediately. There are many “varieties” of women, and whereas there are some traits which might be typically described as interesting by boys, there isn’t any one approach to be engaging. What she must do, as an alternative of hating on her sister for having the romantic life she so wishes, is to determine how one can make connections with guys on her personal phrases.

Remind her that one of the dangerous issues {that a} younger lady can do is to look down on different younger ladies due to the way in which they give the impression of being or act, or resulting from how a lot guys could like them. Ask her to think about that it might not merely be a matter of carrying tons of make-up, or being “pretend,” or attaining a sure form that pulls dudes to her sister, however moderately her confidence, the kind of conversations she’s partaking them in, their shared pursuits, and so on.

Kate ought to spend a while serious about what she likes about boys, what kind of qualities she wishes in a boyfriend, what kind of qualities she’d desire a boy to want from her, and the way that strains up along with her precise habits. Guys typically do like good, humorous women who play video video games with them; nevertheless, if she’s at all times outfitted with a playful insult, or by no means exhibits any apparent curiosity in relationship the boys in her social circle, or anybody else, it’s very straightforward for her to grow to be and stay one of many guys.

In the end, it is advisable assist her reevaluate simply what bothers her about her sister and her buddies, what she’s truly hoping to realize relating to boys, and what steps she has or has not taken to make that come true. Better of luck to you all!

— Jamilah

Extra Recommendation From Slate

My boyfriend has about two dozen stuffed animals. They’re, apparently, the survivors of a childhood assortment as soon as numbering over 100. When requested, he can clarify the person purpose for every one he saved. (Invariably it was a present from so-and-so, a bunch of individuals that features household and buddies however no exes). Most of them are stored on a shelf in his closet, however one has a spot of honor on his mattress. A part of me feels prefer it shouldn’t be any large deal—in spite of everything, I went to school with a teddy bear, who at the moment resides on my nightstand. However a part of me retains fixating on the truth that he’s a person in his 20s with two dozen stuffed animals, which is hardly the norm. Is this a cause for concern, or should I let it go?

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