Ask Maggie: Real Parenting Advice From a Mom of Three

Each month Maggie answers one of our reader's questions

October 1, 2019

Each month our pulls-no-punches advice columnist Maggie answers one of our reader's questions about parenting. Click on the link to see Maggie's opinions on the subject:

Ask Maggie: How Much Money Should the Tooth Fairy Leave?

How much money does the tooth fairy give?

Ask Maggie: How Do I Care For Aging Parents?

Any advice on how to handle it when your aging parents are no longer able to care for themselves?

Ask Maggie: How Do I Tell My Kids Their Father and I Are Separating?

My husband and I have had an awful relationship for years, and we have finally decided to separate. In my heart of hearts, I know this is a good thing and I believe we will all be better for it. He’s a good dad, though, and I don’t know how in the world we are going to tell our kids, who are 4 and 7. Any advice?

How Do I Get My Hubby to Stop Pushing My Son Into Sports?

My husband played high school sports and wants our son to have that same experience. But our son, well, let’s just say he is more comic books and computers than playbooks and passes. How can I get his Dad to stop pushing him towards sports?

Why Do My Kids Only Listen When I Yell?

Why do I have to ask/tell nicely several times and then finally yell before anyone listens? Why is scary, yelling, angry mommy the only one who can get any results?

How Do I Get My 10-Year-Old to Wear a Bra?

My daughter is 10 and about to start a new school year, and she needs to start wearing a training bra. How do I tell her this, without making her feel awkward about her changing body?

How Can I Take Back the Summer? 

Help! Sometimes I HATE summer. Endless playdate requests, friends over every day, summer camps back-to-back, and the endless “What are we going to do NEXT?” I thought summer was for fun? Am I selfish? 

How Do I Get My Kids To Pick Up Their Messes?

I feel like I'm constantly cleaning up after the rest of the family. How can I get my kids to help around the house more this summer?

How Young is Too Young For a Smartphone?

How young is too young for a smartphone? Kids in second grade are starting to have them. I am so not ready for everything that comes along with this! 

Is It OK For Me to Post My Kids' Pictures on Social Media?

When my son was a baby, I gleefully posted pics of him doing the most adorable things on all of my social media channels. But, well, he’s not a baby anymore and I’m thinking that maybe I should make sure it is okay with him for me to post his picture. So I guess my question is … at what age should you ask your kid’s “permission” to post about them on social media?

My Kids Hate My Cooking. How Can I Keep That From Ruining Family Mealtimes?

How do I get my elementary school-aged kids to eat dinner without it being a nightly battle? I'm really not a bad cook. It makes me irrationally angry when they gag over the food I make -- which doesn't make for pleasant family dinner times.

How Do I Navigate the Choppy Waters of Young Dating?

Call me crazy, but I think 12 is too young for dating. But I’m getting the “all my friends are doing it!” response. How do I navigate this new world?

What Do I Do About Overbearing Parents?

My son's best friend's parents are crazy. Daily text messages, taking pictures of my kids constantly at school (they volunteer), regular attempts to get the kids together (not the normal occasional texts, but obsessive ones). Facebook stalking, everything. I don't want to tell my kid who to be friends with, but how do I stop the crazy?

My Child Hates School. What Can I Do?

My child hates school. How can I get his attitude to improve?

How Can I Get My Husband to Stop Using the Term 'Work Wife'?

My husband's business partner is a woman. I have no problem with that. She's awesome and I trust my husband completely. But the other day, he referred to her as his "work wife" and it really, really rubbed me the wrong way. Should I say anything? To him? To her? I was going to just let it go, but it's still bugging me.

How Do I Get My Kids to Brush Their Teeth?

Why do my kids hate brushing their teeth and how do I get them to do it without standing there in the bathroom monitoring them? Who doesn’t want clean teeth? They are almost 8 and 13. I'm especially concerned now because, with Halloween around the corner, they'll be eating a TON of teeth-destroying candy this month!

What are the Rules for a Pre-Teen on Social Media?

My daughter is 11 and almost all of her friends are on Snapchat and Instagram. I don't want her to be the "weird kid." I do want her to be able to connect and share with her friends ... but I also know that we need to lay some solid ground rules. I need some help on figuring out what those rules should be. Any ideas?

How Do I Keep From Raising Spoiled Kids?

Help! I want to give my kids everything I didn't have growing up. But I fear they are growing up entitled -- how do I give my kids everything, but still raise them to be kind, grateful, and appreciative human beings?  

How Can I Teach My Only Child to Share? 

So, this happened. My son is 3 and an only child. We were at a friend's birthday party and the kids were all playing with a set of trains. My son gathered up ALL of the trains in his arms and wouldn't let anyone else play with them. I intervened, of course, and he had a complete meltdown. We quickly left so as not to disrupt the other child's birthday party. Without any siblings, I'm afraid my son will never learn to share! What can I do?

Should We Start Our Young 5-Year-Old in Kindergarten, or Wait a Year?

My daughter's birthday is in August so she turns 5 just before school starts. She is advanced for her age but also really small. I don't know if we should hold her back a year to give her time to grow physically and mature a little more or if we should start her in school at 5 since she is academically prepared?

How Can I Find Time For Family Meals With This Schedule? 

Help! My children have to be at karate from 5:30-7:30pm, which means I have to leave to take them at 5pm. Dinner is the issue. They can't wait until class is over to eat and prepping and serving dinner around 4 or 4:30 is quite the challenge for me. I hate feeding them fast food because it isn't healthy and gets expensive to do this twice a week, but I don't want them going hungry until they get home from class at 8pm.

My Daughter is a Bully. What Do I Do? 

Help, my daughter is a bully. We're always reading how to help our kids against bullies but what do we do when ours is the one being the bully?

How Do I Deal With My Needy Neighbor?

I have a neighbor who always seems to be in personal crisis. I have tried to help any way I can with child care and meals but I have realized that maybe I am being taken advantage of. Even when I say I am not available, she still finds a way to rope me into cleaning her house or running an errand when I know she is able to manage on her own. I don't want to be unkind. Her husband is a deadbeat and I know she struggles with depression. How do I make it easier on me and still help?

Is It OK to Leave My Kids For a Weekend Away?

My mom just invited me to go away with her and my sister for a long weekend to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday. Mom is paying and the thought of three days away is so appealing … but I’ve never left my kids (ages 4 and 5 ½). Should I go? My husband says yes, so he’s not the problem … I think maybe I am.