Welcome to my weekly Bad Mom Advice column where I attempt to answer all of your parenting questions as only I know how — with zero degree in early childhood development, but with the experience of raising four kids and not having any of them in prison – yet! Plus, I back all my advice on numerous scientific research, which may or may not include me making fun of your dumb kid behind your back and drinking a bunch of wine! Welcome to Bad Mom Advice!
Dear Eve I’m a big fan of all of your writing and I love bad mom advice and all of your other articles and I may lose my job because I spend most of my day reading mommyish. My question is, I know you are a big fan of time outs, and how old is too old for a time out? I ask because my fourtteen year old daughter has started mouthing off a lot and fighting with her siblings and talking back to me and my husband. i know being a teenager is hard but she is so hormonal and driving me crazy.
How old is too old for time-outs? I would say, I don’t know, maybe around 75. On occasion, when he has had a bad day at work and the kids are begging for a new something or another and the water heater is acting wonky I give my husband a time out. Meaning I suggest he go upstairs and have a nap until he is in a better mood. Hell, almost every day I could use my own time out. I probably need one right now. I use time-outs when whatever crime is being committed doesn’t deserve a grounding or loss of privileges. If my kids are bickering terribly or I hear an angry shut up? Into the corner you go. And yes, I still do this with my 17-year-old because nothing is funnier than seeing a six foot three kid in a Wu-Tang Clan shirt facing the corner for calling his brother a “Dumbass.” I never keep any kid in the corner or on a chair or on the steps for longer than five minutes, and i think that is pretty much the perfect amount of time to turn a mood around and have them consider the consequences of their actions. If they continue acting like a jerk after the time out they know that the time out is their warning and next time, or if the behavior continues, they will lose screen time or other fun things. Now that my kids are older I don’t have to do it that often, but you better believe I am all too happy to shove one of these monsters in the NAUGHTY CORNER if they push me. If your 14-year-old is just being nasty to her younger siblings and you know she doesn’t have anything else bigger going on, time out her, and then talk to her about what is making her be so pissy. Being a teenage girl is so hard. Younger siblings are annoying. Forcing your older kid into time out should never take the place of talking to them, but I’ve noticed when I do this with my older kids it usually ends up being a big mood lightener and if the reason they are in time out is for being rude to a younger sibling, the younger sibling usually finds this so hilarious that they forgive their sibling over whatever transgression took place. Then talk to both of them, explain how in families the members need to be kind to one another, and make them hug it out. Problem (usually) solved.
My problem is that I have three kids.
Can’t help ya there is it too late to sell one of them? OH, you aren’t done yet.. okay…
My mom, their grandma, is divorced and she only ever remembers my oldest kids birthday and will send him a card with money in it or a present. she fails to remember my other kids birthdays and doesn’t even call them on the day. I’ve told her before how much this upsets me and her other grandkids but it doesn’t make a difference. she just says she forgets. what can I do?
UGH, that stinks. Okay, you said you have expressed concern to her about this and she still refuses to acknowledge her other grandkids. Is there a big age difference between the kids or has she spent more time with your eldest so she has a stronger attachment to them? Not that it really matters, because all of this sucks. I think all you can do at this point is intercept the mail. I hate to “punish” your eldest by doing this but it’s just unfair to the other kids and to you. I would take whatever she sends and return it to her with a note that reads that you appreciate the gift or card, but that you don’t feel right accepting a present for one child when you have two other children who are having their special days ignored. if it’s a matter of finances, she can just send each of the kids a card and a note. Is she old enough where she is getting senile? How is her relationship with the other kids when she sees them? Is she in contact with them on the phone? Maybe for her birthday or the next major holiday you could give her a lovely date book with all of the kid’s birthdays written in red ink so she has a reminder. She is under no obligation to send any of her grandkids a gift or card, but because she is doing so for one she should really do it for all of them. This is a grandparent we are talking about, not one of your kid’s schoolyard pals who have no other relationship to your other kids. This is such an odd problem for me to read about but I have actually heard about this happening before. Kids usually only have one, or two, grandmas and I think fostering a good relationship between them is important, but if she is going to neglect the others and favor the one you have every right to call her out on it. Good luck and please come back and tell us what happens! We are nosy! We need to know these things!
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