- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

Please help me. My 60-year-old mother lost weight and now she leaves my dad at home for us to baby-sit him. She is acting like a 16-year-old. She goes to parties, skates on Rollerblades and has purchased a new Harley. She has lost her mind. Her response is: It’s her time to live. She says she supported my father during a 35-year military career and raised her children. Now she wants to live it up because we are all adults and do not live at home. Only, her actions are hurtful toward my father. Why can’t she take him with her to some of these parties? Why can’t he go motorcycle riding with her and her new biker friends? Her behavior is dangerous because she is hanging out with all of these strange people like a little hippie or something. I’m asking her to tone it down. It’s quite embarrassing to me that my mother is talking slang, dancing in the mirror and wearing her hair in asymmetrical haircuts. My father called me crying last weekend and told me my mother just got a tattoo. I’m scared to see it. There’s no telling what she put on her arm.

Ms. Vicki, my mother’s behavior is causing problems in our relationship. It’s hard for me to look at her now. She’s become so disrespectful. Ms. Vicki, do you think my mom has lost her mind? Should we try to get a court order to get her committed for an evaluation? I’m really scared for her. - Parentified Daughter

Dear Daughter,

It’s not your role to be the parent. Your mother is 60 years old, and her life has changed drastically. I know you can’t understand this change because you are not accustomed to her new way of life. She lost a significant amount of weight; she’s roller-skating, going to parties, purchased a new motorcycle and now she leaves your father home. Conversely, he may be choosing to stay at home because her new interests are not his cup of tea.

Let me be honest with you. It’s not your role to baby-sit your father, either. He’s a grown man who is married to your mother. You must leave this to the two of them to work out.

I don’t think your mom has lost her mind, and I don’t think she needs a mental health evaluation to have her committed. From what I’m reading she is living this phase of her life differently from her early parenting years. I’m not telling you to join in, but this does not have to ruin your relationship with your mother.

I’m happy to know that you are concerned for your mother, but I really think this is her decision.

What can I do to stop other children from making fun of my son because of his teeth? We want him to feel good about himself and not let others make him have low self-esteem.

He is called “Bucky Beaver” and told “you can eat corn through a fence.” He is humiliated by his peers every day, and I know teachers join in, too. One teacher asked him why his parents don’t get his huge overbite fixed. The teacher also said, “Hey, I know your dad is in the military and has dental insurance; they should do something about your mouth.” This hurt my son tremendously. It’s none of her business what he has.

My son is a beautiful 12-year-old, and we are proud of him. I always tell him that if God wanted him to have different teeth, he would have given them to him. Now my son doesn’t want to go to school because he has no friends, he isn’t picked for athletic teams in P.E. and no one wants to sit near him at lunch.

I have an appointment to speak with the school principal about this matter. In the meantime, how do I let my son know he is not the one with the problem; it’s the other people with the problem.

- I Love My Son’s Teeth

Dear Love,

You were nice enough to send me a photo of your son. You are right, he is a beautiful young man, but let me be honest. He needs to see an orthodontist immediately. I’m not a dentist, but I know it must be hard for him to chew his food, swallow and digest it properly.

I think it’s great you are telling him that God made him beautiful. Clearly, you and I both believe God doesn’t make mistakes. Let’s be honest, though. God gives us choices and provides us ways to improve our health and appearance.

I could say that if God wanted me to be 5 feet 9 inches and 120 pounds, he would have made me that way. I’m 5 feet 9 inches, but I’m not 120 pounds. What I need to do is let go of my fork and exercise more often. I’m trying to be more consistent at doing both.

Here’s the deal: Your son is looking in the mirror too, and he is being teased by his classmates. What his peers are doing is not right, but we both know 12 is a tough age and children can be quite cruel. This is not good for your son’s self-esteem and self-worth. On the other hand, you should speak with the teacher who has made comments about him. The teacher should be a supportive ally for him.

Your husband is a service member and should have dental insurance. Talk with him about the coverage. I’ve lived all over the country and have never known a dentist who did not accept United Concordia. Call about your benefits today.

c Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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