- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I let my 12-year-old daughter go to a movie the other day and stay overnight at her friend’s house after the movie. I unexpectedly had go to the movie theater to pick them up because the other mother had car trouble. To my surprise, my daughter was dressed quite differently than when she had left home. She was wearing a different jacket, low-cut jeans that showed her stomach and she even had makeup on.

Ms. Vicki, my daughter has the body of someone older than 14. I am only trying to protect her. I asked her where she got the clothes and she said some friends gave them to her. I think this was sneaky on her part, and I have decided to take all of her privileges until she is 18. Of course, she feels I am being too harsh and mean.

How do I help her understand I am the mother and she has to obey me? I’m only trying to protect her. - Help Me and My Daughter

Dear Help,

It is important for your daughter to be accepted by her peers. They want to dress like their friends, look like their friends, listen to the same music, visit the same places, etc. You could spend time being angry with your daughter and keep her grounded until she is 18, or you could do the reverse; use this incident as an opportunity for conversation and sharing between you and your daughter.

I agree, your daughter’s actions were sneaky. Discuss your expectations regarding clothing, and what you feel would be appropriate for someone her age. Be willing to compromise and not make this a great power struggle. Spend time with her shopping and discovering which stores carry appropriate, fashionable clothing for her age. There are many of them.

Try not to spend too much time being angry at her for this indiscretion. I can understand her being grounded for a set period of time, but it is unrealistic to keep her grounded until she is 18. Trying to do so would only be punishment for you, not your daughter. In the large scheme of things, you’ll discover this incident is quite small. I applaud you for your parenting efforts.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am not asking for advice, but would you please submit my letter giving advice to everyone?

All soldiers both male and female, I urge you to take care of yourselves. I came home from Iraq after a second deployment. This time, there was sheer devastation.

My house was in foreclosure, the bank account was empty, there were bounced checks and my children were failing in school. I have made a decision to only blame myself for this disaster. I could have planned more carefully, made better arrangements for my children and put money in an account that only I could access.

Yes, my husband was a man I trusted, but he is nowhere to be found. I am now left to sort through this mess and pick up the pieces.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you have to deploy, please attend as many briefings as you can and educate yourself on the many options that are available. Don’t find yourself in my situation. - Redeployed, But Broke, Busted and Disgusted

  • Vicki Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three, has been counseling service members and their families for 15 years. Her column, Dear Ms. Vicki, runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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