DEAR NATHAN: Our 13-year-old is addicted to her phone. She stays on it for hours, and it’s affecting the time she goes to bed. She’s now starting to oversleep the alarm in the morning before school.
She’s spoiled, and I’m afraid that removing or limiting phone privileges will lead to major problems with her protesting it. I don’t want truant officers or social workers coming to my house because my wife and I can’t discipline our kid.
How do you handle a spoiled brat without involving outside agencies? She’s nice to people in school, but is lazy at home and totally self-centered. — FRUSTRATED, EXHAUSTED DAD
DEAR FRUSTRATED, EXHAUSTED DAD: In my lifetime, I have known many bratty people. The entire time I knew them, I wondered (occasionally out loud), “How did this person become so very very bratty? Did their parents abandon them at an extra-entitled orphanage full of bratty nuns? Also, what activity would a bratty nun partake in?”
Now, though, it all makes sense. Well, except for that last part about bratty nuns. I don’t think I will ever make sense of that.
Back in the golden age of parenting, the answer would be a good old-fashioned spanking. Remember how the kids on “Leave it to Beaver” were so well-behaved? That’s because off-camera Ward Cleaver swatted Wally and the Beaver so hard that they learned to never do the thing that Eddie Haskell talked them into ever again. Now-a-days, though, this is frowned upon. Something about child abuse.
My recommendation would be this: take her phone away. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but you’re the parents. She is just a whiny bratty teenage girl. Don’t get me wrong: teenage girls are scary. They are Hell incarnate. Why no one has made a horror movie where the villain is just a 13-year-old girl complaining that her friend Becky said this one thing and not that other thing to that one person is beyond me.
If your daughter throws a fit, and she will, this is personally what I would do. I would take that phone, take a hammer, then smash it into little bits. Then I would walk away while asking “What did we learn here?” No outside agencies involved. Plus you save money on your phone bill.
DEAR NATHAN: I just learned that my unborn child is a boy. Some people tell me that it’s harder to raise a baby boy, but others tell me differently. I don’t know who to believe anymore. I am only five months pregnant and already feeling stressed. — 19 AND CONFUSED
DEAR 19 AND CONFUSED: The raising of boys and girls are two completely different worlds. To me, this is how it works out. When boys are young, they are absolute terrors. They want to turn everything into a gun and make everything explode. Whenever they are looking at something, you can see that they are calculating the best and most exciting way to destroy that thing. Little girls, on the other hand, are usually very sweet and caring.
This all switches at puberty. Sure, all teenagers are awful, but teenage girls are the worst. Just ask Frustrated, Exhausted Dad.
As long as you are a good parent, either should be fine. Also if they are bratty, TAKE THEIR PHONE AWAY! JUST DO IT!
DEAR NATHAN: More and more I receive emails from people using the closing salutation “Best.” I feel this must be incorrect. Shouldn’t it be “Best Regards” or “Best Wishes”? To say simply “Best” seems somehow lacking. Best what? What is accurate? — TANDI IN NEW HAVEN
DEAR TANDI: I actually agree with you very much. “Best” is very confusing. Yes, I know it is supposed to be shorthand for “Best Wishes”, but is it really that much more work to just type “wishes”? That would be like me deciding “farewell” was too long and just writing “fare”. It’s just gibberish.
In this situation, I totally endorse a passive-aggressive way of dealing with this. When you get one of these emails, respond back saying, “Oh, it looks like part of your email didn’t go through. Best what? Was there another word there?” Continue to do this every time you get an email signed “best” until they learn their lesson.
If that doesn’t work, just wait until they aren’t looking and steal their computer, tablet, or other internet-enabled device. It’s hard to sign an email “best” when you have no way to send an email.